Published on March 27th, 2023 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Audi A3 2.0TFSI S-Line Test Drive Review
Can this fully imported Audi A3 compete fairly in our complicated car market?
Take note that this Audi A3 is fully imported and so it is subjected to full import duties. The rivals are locally assembled and this means a lower import duty which translates to lower selling prices.
Now, that we have explained the reason for the high asking price, lets get to our evaluation of this unique premium compact sedan.
The first ever Audi A3 was presented to the global market in late 1996 (codenamed Type 8L) and arrived in very limited numbers in Malaysia only 10 years later in 2006 (hatchback only).
Then in late 2014 the A3 sedan was launched and offered in 2 engine variants, a 1.4L TFSI and a 1.8L TFSI. Priced at RM179,900 and RM240,888 it sold in small numbers despite its soild build and good handling.
Now, in 2023, Audi has revived the A3 sedan interest with this high specification S-Line variant powered by a 2.0L TFSI engine and the brand is now handled by PHS Automotive Malaysia after the departure of Audi Malaysia early last year.
Look & Feel
First thing you will notice is the sharper edgy design that follows its siblings. Having won the global car of the year we were looking for all the points that gave this sedan a clear win against its many rivals. After just a few minutes we were already feeling the interior quality which was definitely ahead of many of the current rivals.
The cabin has been re-styled to offer more design flair to the mid segment buyer and Audi realising that high quality alone isn’t enough to lure buyers into showrooms. There has to be some style on the instrument display too.
Like all modern Audis, this is a sedan that will capture the attention of designer clothing buyers. It is a designer car. The lines are taut and with attitude. There is a sense of occasion as you walk around the car.
Yes, it is smaller in person that you might imagine. Its footprint is probably smaller than its cousin, the VW Jetta which is now discontinued.
On the Road
The A3 sedan certainly offers a few mouth-watering attentions when on the road. Driving manners are impressive from ‘go’ with a cabin that feels vault like in build quality. The engine note is hardly heard inside.
The steering immediately returns a firm responsive feedback and as you speed up, this Audi really pulls clear of the opposition as its revolutionary S Tronic Dynamic Shift Gearbox shifts quick and precisely to obtain the best compromise of power and fuel efficiency.
The S Tronic gearbox is based around a sequential manual gearbox but utilizes an ingenious twin clutch system to ensure creamy smoothness. Engage first gear and the gearbox will pre-engage second gear in advance, the second clutch engaging as soon as you flick up to slot instantly into second gear. This means a seamless flow of power.
The electronics predict what gear you’re about to engage, depending on whether you’re accelerating or braking and the result is astonishing, making every other gearbox look distinctly clunky. The other option is to slip it into ‘D’ and drive it like a normal automatic. Even in this mode it’s smooth and quick.
Like we mentioned earlier, handing is good and there is no need for the Quattro option. The 17-in tires grip well as you extract the 320Nm of torque from the 1984cc engine.
The 7.3 seconds acceleration time feels faster when behind the wheel as the compact dimensions and tight handling do its duties very well.
Although the BMW’s 218i which is priced at just RM211k and Mercedes’ A-Class sedan which is priced a little higher at RM229,888 challenges this Audi A3 sedan in the premium compact executive sedan, neither can match the A3 in terms of packaging and build.
Plus Audi’s engineering genius from a 1.5 ton premium sedan. There is no other word to describe it, the gearbox, the build, the use of materials and the drive dynamics make for one very desirable car which in all circles is priced to be very exclusive.
So, the final question is this. Is a RM100k or so price premium going to deter you?
Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Specifications:
Engine: 4-cylinder Direct Injection Turbo
Transmission: 7-Speed S-Tronic
Max power: 190bhp @ 4,100-6,000rpm
Max torque: 320Nm @ 1,500-3,990rpm
Top Speed: 240km/h