Pure, simple and elegant – that is the best way to describe the Audi A3 that comes with more extroverted styling statements I viewed in Limpopo Province, South Africa, with a team of motoring journalists from sub-Saharan African countries.
And if you are a car freak, just look at the previous-shape Audi A3 launched nearly ten years ago; you will be convinced, just like me, that it is still a rather smart-looking car.
People will point fingers at the new A3 for being too conservative, too evolutionary, but I bet its design is going to stand the test of time.
It’s a similar story inside the new A3, where the basic dashboard design has a familiar look, except that it’s a lot more modern, uncluttered and elegant. The most striking additions are those ‘jet engine’ central air vents, and looking around you’ll soon notice that the dash has been significantly de-cluttered. In fact, the only switches that had the audacity to appear are the ventilation controls and a few miscellaneous buttons.
Driving the basic ‘S’ model, for instance, reveals a whole lot of things and typically shows a car which still packs all the basic amenities like air conditioning, auto headlights and wipers, driver information system, front centre arm rest and Bluetooth connectivity.
Here is a classic German car with an interior design that is sporty and uncluttered. Turn the key and a 5.8-inch colour screen pops out the top of the dash and it soon becomes apparent that the standard ‘MMI’ controller is your link to the Concert audio system.
It also comes with a leather-covered four-spoke steering wheel, which, according to some industry critics, is a bit of an eye-sore in a world of sporty three-spoke designs. To some of these critics again, occupants may also feel a bit strange sitting on a set of rather plain-looking cloth seats in an Audi.
But if you want full leather, then you will have to pay extra to go for a choice of a leather material with alcantara combination. Again, if you are someone who gets an itchy sensation when looking through an optional items brochure, then this car, like any other German machine, could really break the bank.
Nonetheless, the A3’s superbly-finished interior really looks a million bucks and makes you feel like you are driving something that is a cut above the rest and further complemented, thankfully, with the superb and elitist mechanical composition that plays along too.
Richard Nando Smith, who lives in Hoedsprut, South Africa, does not only own the latest Audi A3, 1.4-l litre TSI turbo-diesel model, he also drives it himself, and says it makes a lot more sense than the 1.2-litre TSI base model that costs just R7500 less.
Expressing his obsession with the car to BusinessDay Nigeria in South Africa, Smith does not mince words when he says, “What I love about this 1.4 is that it really punches above the perceptions created by its rather meagre power output of 90kW. Glance over its torque figure of 200Nm and it starts to make more sense. Floor it off the mark and there’s no lag to speak of and it remains brisk and satisfying all the way to its 6000rpm power peak. No drama, no quibbles – just pure, punchy turbo boost.”
Along the way, he adds, you will enjoy the solid and smooth gear shift mechanism and the well-spaced and positioned pedals make traffic a cinch. “In a nutshell, the driving experience is highly enjoyable.”
The Audi is still sufficiently comfortable on everyday urban surfaces and the handling is very neat too. According to the automakers, it is also economical, with Audi claiming a mixed-cycle fuel consumption of 5.2 litres per 100km. For them, the A3 1.4T is pricey. But it’s also smart, practical, efficient and a pleasure to drive. Spoil yourself, if you have