With the Audi A3 facelift just around the corner, chances are there'll be some good run-out deals on the current model. As a result we thought we'd take a look at the cheapest Audi sedan you can get your hands on - the 1.4 COD Attraction - and remind ourselves what it's all about.
With the A1 offered only in a hatch body style, the A3 is Audi's entry-level sedan and is priced from $40,700 before on-road costs. Also on offer is the 1.8 TFSI Ambition at $46,000, the 1.8 quattro Ambition priced at $49,000 and the 2.0 TDI Ambition diesel option for $46,100.
When it comes to direct competitors, the Audi A3 sedan is in a bit of a space of its own with not many equivalent offerings at a similar price, in the same body style and with a premium badge.
The BMW 1 Series starts from $36,900 but is only available as a hatch, as is the Mercedes-Benz A-Class which starts at $37,200. The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer also comes to mind, with prices starting at $44,400, as does the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Sports Tourer that starts at $41,700, but neither of those cars are in the 4-door sedan arrangement. The Mercedes-Benz CLA sedan is closest, though it's a little larger and priced from $51,400.
The fairly recent introduction of smaller cars to the Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz line up can be attributed to the push from premium brands to lure first time buyers into the fold. Why? Because once a customer has made the jump from a far cheaper but similarly sized car, the potential of them staying with the brand and moving into something bigger isn't to be sneezed at.
However the A3 sedan is a carrot dangling in the faces of many in this position; a premium badged sedan for around $40,000... suddenly you could find yourself wondering if you really need all that extra space, or the hassle of parking a larger, more mainstream car.
For the lead up to the launch of the facelift, Audi is currently (at the time of this being published) offering its $2000 Style package as a complimentary bonus on a range of A3 models. We at CarAdvice do bang on quite a lot about Audi and its large list of options and packages that can quickly blow out the cost of your new car, so to get the Style package for free is worth a thumbs up.
For those looking to get into a premium badged car and want a sedan, the Audi A3 is the logical place to start. It's discerningly attractive in its design. Our test car also has the Style package ($2000) which adds Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, 18-inch alloy wheels as well as sports suspension. It also is finished in Lotus Grey, which is a metallic paint and adds $1150 to the total cost.
The interior is finished in black and the cabin feels classy but not overdone; the materials and the finishes are quality but don't expect a prestigious, high-end feel just because it has four-rings on the grille. This may be the base model but leather appointed seats are standard. They're positioned nice and low in the cabin and are soft and comfortable.
In the centre of the dash is a pop-up display (not a touchscreen) with a CD player, memory card reader and bluetooth connectivity. Again our test car has an optional package - the Technik package ($2790) which adds a 7.0-inch display (over the standard 5.8-inch), navigation, colour driver information system, digital radio, park assist and Audi sound system.
There is no USB port, however there is a 12V outlet that has a cover that looks like an old cigarette lighter (remember those?) and the Audi HDMI connection point is tucked away in the centre console bin.
There are steering wheel controls for voice, audio and information display as well as paddle-shifters for those times you want to play in sports mode. The cruise control stalk is hidden away almost behind the steering wheel, which can take a bit of getting used to because it's not actually visible without leaning forward and to the side.
Storage-wise there's room for a water bottle in the door pocket, a lined glove box, a small centre console bin and there are two cup holders positioned in front of the gearshift.
This proved to be a little bit problematic, because of centre stack overhangs. If you have a larger or taller drink to secure, you'll have to go around the gearshift and in on an angle under the panel that houses the air-conditioning controls. The cup holder was also sporting a good old-fashioned cup-shaped ashtray.
The A3 sedan COD Attraction misses out on push-button start, but it does have auto headlights, rain-sensing wipers and dual-zone climate control. The third and final option package on our A3 is the Assistance package ($1800) which adds adaptive cruise control, Audi pre-sense, lane departure warning, high beam assist and Audi side assist.
It's always nice to find a mirror and light behind both the driver and passenger sun visors.
We had an A4 in the CarAdvice garage at the same time, and the difference in rear seat space was interesting. In the A3 you have to duck your head to get in, while (as you would expect) the A4 felt much more open, lending a noticeable difference when it came to the amount of space offered in the rear of the A4 cabin.
Direct headroom in the A3 was good but the position of the C-pillar and the slope of the side of the roof made it feel a little boxed in and imposing when seated in the outboard positions.
There's also plenty of knee room but the seat feels quite low. The centre seat is flat but offers slightly less under-thigh support thanks to the curved shape of the seat-base. As with side head room, outside elbow room is also impeded by the plastic on the C-pillar and door frame. You'd be hard-pressed fitting three adults across the back seat and the act of egress requires a little bit of leg-lifting due to the narrow doors.
There are rear air vents, a 12V outlet, and a small bottle holder in each of the door pockets, however there is no centre armrest or cup holders.
The boot looks quite deep and long, offering up a respectable 425-litres of space, which is 45-litres more than the hatch. There are cargo nets on the sides plus a larger one to go over luggage, and cargo hooks as well for those shopping bags.
The A3 Sedan Attraction has a 1.4-litre petrol engine with cylinder-on-demand that produces 103kW (5000 rpm) and 250Nm (1500-3500 rpm), teamed with a seven-speed S tronic direct-shift gearbox. Cylinder-on-demand is essentially a four cylinder engine with the ability to close the valves on two cylinders at low and medium loads to save fuel. If you put your foot down, it automatically opens up again and puts the car back in four-cylinder mode - all in an effort to keep fuel consumption as close as possible to the claimed 4.7-litres per 100 kilometres.
Out on the road the engine noise barely permeates the cabin, but road noise is quite noticeable. The ride is soft and compliant over small bumps but surprisingly a little sharp over big potholes, which is likely something to do with the larger wheels.
Those wheels tended to indulge in a little bit of spin under hard acceleration, but body control was impressive along some windy stretches of road. There was some hesitation at times from the DSG and it can feel a little slow off the mark, but once it's moving there is enough torque on offer to make it an engaging drive. When taking it easy and cruising along, the cylinder-on-demand function works effortlessly and with little fanfare.
The steering is nice and light, but has more feel and accuracy when the active steering assist system is disengaged. If the system starts to get on your nerves, it can be turned off using the indicator stalk.
Audi offer a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, roadside assistance and a three years/45,000km service plan that will cost $1680.
When you add up the options, our test Audi A3 sedan comes to $48,800 before on-road costs; quite a jump on the $40,700 starting price. It all adds up quickly and turns this into a much more expensive proposition, in fact it simply opens the field to include many more alternatives around the same price point. Though remember, that Style package is a bonus at the moment.
Regardless of how you'd choose to option your car, at its heart the A3 sedan is a great drive, it's comfortable, it feels premium and if you're loathe to drive a hatch and want a small premium car, it's a thoroughly sensible option.
Click on the Photos tab for more images by Christian Barbeitos