First drive: 2016 Audi A3 Sedan in the UAE
Downsizing is rampant nowadays, and the same goes for premium cars. We’re not talking about job losses, but the size of cars. The Audi A3 started life as a lacklustre hatchback about a decade ago, and we called it out as such back then. However, it’s changed over the years, and the new sedan version of the latest A3 has been getting some attention lately. And with good reason, from what we saw.
In the UAE, the A3 Sedan comes in several flavours, starting with a 1.4-litre turbo front-driver and topping off with a 1.8-litre turbo all-wheeler. We believe our test car is the ideal spec — a 1.8-litre turbo model with front-wheel-drive, and an S-Line kit that’s essential in making this stubby car look good.
Inside, the cabin is attractive and has soft-touch surfaces on upper areas of the dash and doors. The fancy multimedia screen sits atop of the dash, controlled via a rotary dial below the shifter. It’s not easy to use at once, but then again, we didn’t have the car for long.
Space is good up front and just about adequate for average-sized adults in the back. The boot is of a decent size too, for such a small car.
The engine makes 180 hp, with 250 Nm of torque available from just 1250 rpm. It’s not rocket-fast, but it feels very spritely at low revs and there’s always good power on tap at highway speeds.
With a smart 7-speed automatic as standard, we never found ourselves in the wrong gear, and slipping into ‘sport’ mode made spirited driving more fun as it held the revs longer. There are no paddle-shifters though, if that’s your thing.
Handling is admirable in this car, it’s small size making it inherently chuckable. Body roll is limited and grip is good, so it is hard to come across any squealing understeer in city driving. There is no need to get the Quattro all-wheel-drive model. It rides pretty decently too, for a little car with big 19-inch wheels.
The responsive steering is mildly weighted and offers some feedback, but we’d say it is Audi’s second-best steering setup in terms of feel, after the R8 supercar. The brakes offer linear pedal feel and good stopping power.
The A3 Sedan is quite a return to form for Audi when it comes to fun entry-level cars that aren’t RS-badged. It’s still a bit expensive with the S-Line kit and all, but well within reach.
For prices and specs, visit the Audi buyer guide.
Photos by Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury.