Finally, Audi has agreed to give me a car on loan for a few days, so I can compare the new A3 2.0 TDI S-tronic SE against my current one (previous A3 2.0 TDI model, although Sport version).
My initial findings:
- TDI engine is much more refined and very smooth. Seems also much quieter and vibrating less.
- Stop and start is not very smooth and very noticeable, but probably ignore after a while
- The S-tronic gearbox works very well, and it's more enjoyable to leave it in manual than before
- Suspensions on the SE model are much nicer than my current car: car drives very well without making the ride too hard
- The standard screen is quite low resolution/pixelated and dim: the brightness setting does not seem to do anything
- I have put some MP3 on a SD card, and they are showing by folders: however, can't find an option to display by artist or other attributes. Most artwork does not display.
- I don't like the LEDs used for the oil temperature and fuel tank: standard dials were better, easier to read and looking better
- The integrated Sat Nav is quite poor. I currently use Tomtom Live in my car, and I don't understand how people in this forum can think that the Audi system is better: map/directions very hard to read (not a clean 3D view like the tomtom), useless traffic information (Tomtom live is a lot more precise without doubt), no speed camera warnings, no Google search etc. Having the pop-up screen in the middle means positioning the Tomtom on the windscreen will be a pain. I don't know if it's possible to prevent the screen from popping out when the engine starts
- Not too keen either on the new air conditioning buttons: they look cheap and out of place in term of colour/design. Pressing the "auto" button used to link both sides to the same temperature. I don't know how to do that now
- The rear and side mirrors are smaller than the previous model, so harder to see
- The air vents look flimsy compared to the previous model
- So many buttons on the central console and on the steering wheel. Before, I had one volume button and one track button (forward/rewind) on the steering wheel. Now, no more simple forward/rewind. I think they overcomplicated it and it is hard to control everything without looking, like finding the back or menu button. An iPod can be controlled with one scrolling wheel and one button in the middle. Scrolling seems to go the opposite way of what is expected
- The steering seems much lighter than on my current car, not sure if it's a good thing, or if it's a way to sell the optional adaptive steering
- The glove compartment is tiny compared to previous one, and so are the door storage. Overall, storage is much worse
- The front arm rest seem to have lost its storage. Let's hope it does not squeak as much as the previous one after a while
- I don't know where the mileage of the car is displayed
I think the car is much better from a mechanical and driving view-point. Not sure the new dashboard and interior is actually a lot more premium than my current car. I think the previous A3 looked more consistent inside.
If I was to order one, I am not sure if it's worth upgrading the screen (is the larger one brighter and Sat Nav improved? What are the other benefits?) and also going for sport suspensions. I like the look of the S-line, but car might look strange with large wheels and standard suspension.
I have the car for a few more days, so might find some other comments to share, but feedback appreciated.