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3 weeks in and 750 miles down – My Thoughts

Discussion in 'New A3/S3 (8V Chassis)' started by M_D_O_London, Nov 4, 2013.

  1. M_D_O_London
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    M_D_O_London Member

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    [Nov 4, 2013]
    Hi All,

    Just thought I'd pen down a mini-review of my Sportback now I've had it a few weeks.

    Current Car:
    Audi A3 (MY2014 - 8V) Sportback 1.8 TFSI S-Tronic S-Line

    Previous Cars:
    1997 Toyota Corolla 1.3 (shudder…)
    2004 Volkswagen Golf Mk5 SE 1.6 FSI (Manual)
    2010 Volkswagen Golf Mk6 GT 1.4 GT DSG


    Brash, vulgar and ostentatious. These aren’t usually words usually associated with Audi's – or Audi drivers for that matter, but are normally applied quite liberally to drivers of old BMW 5-Series saloons shortly to be found hovering an eighth-of-an-inch off of your back bumper on the fast lane of the M25 – you know the ones….all-round tinted windows, the replica M5 alloys, M-Sport decal beside the 520d badge and faux Xenon headlights.

    No – Audi drivers tend to be a bit more sensible than that. And so too are their cars. This brings me neatly onto my new A3 Sportback - a car I’ve always aspired to owning but never quite had the stomach to fund the extra £3,000 or so (spec-for-spec) over an equivalent Golf.

    Until now, that is. The new A3 Sportback really caught my eye when I first spotted one earlier in the year. Yes – from a distance, it does look like a compact A6 Avant, (is that a bad thing?). And – yes, it does have the same trapezoidal grill that Audi have been pedalling since 2005. But, it’s certainly a handsome thing and the compact dimensions and new subtle design elements help it stand-out from pretty much anything else out there. And whilst we’re on the subject of rivals:

    BMW 1 Series: Not pretty from any angle. Does drive very well but seats lack support and interior is of quite poor-quality in places. Dealers are insufferably arrogant – which doesn’t help.

    Mercedes-Benz A-Class: Great looking from the outside, (particularly in AMG Sport trim) and comfortable, low driving position. However, engines were soulless and gearbox was terribly jerky. Priced about £2,000 too high and interior quality lacking in places. Tiny boot, too.

    Volkswagen Golf Mk7: Sensible as a blue button-down-collar shirt. Certainly doesn’t stir any emotion, but it’s very competent in pretty much every area. It was hard not to look at another Golf having been so please with my previous two cars. Good value for money, too.

    I’m a low-mileage driver, (mainly town driving with a weekly motorway blast down to the in-laws) so a petrol-auto made perfect sense. Coming from a Mk6 Golf GT (160ps), I wanted something with slightly more poke so naturally gravitated towards the 1.8 TFSI (180ps) - an S3 would have been fantastic, but ultimately wasted on me. Settled on the FWD version as, living in London, a Quattro model would only have ever had use on slippery inclines into multi-storey car parks….in snow.

    In terms of spec, I’m looking to keep this one a good few years so it was important to have all the creature comforts. It does, however, astound me that Audi still don’t offer basics like automatic light, wipers, cruise control and auto-dimming mirror as standard (we can blame Audi’s UK marketing for the poor ‘packaging’ ) and I can’t imagine how difficult it would to find a half-decent spec’d car if you were in the market for a used one. Continuing on the theme of things that should be standard, this should also apply to rear parking sensors, (Spotback has quite poor visibility at the rear). So – rant over. Here’s what I added and my thoughts on each:

    Ice Silver – Metallic Paint
    Looks great. I’m a bit of a junky for silver cars and the colour really helps set off the subtle lines down the flanks and creases on the bonnet.

    Aluminium Roof Rails
    Personal preference on this one – but an absolute must for me on the Sportback. Aluminium rails nicely complement the chrome trim on the window-edges. And yes, it does give it an estate-ish look which, when you think about it, is what the A3 Sportback really is. I wouldn’t view it as a standard hatchback as there is the separate window behind the rear doors and Sportbacks with the rails seem to be a little better proportioned, (the argument continues on this one).

    Audi Side Assist
    System works very well and is not in-the-slightest bit distracting. Doesn’t have the flaw that early incarnations of this system had where it would pick up the central reservation as an approaching vehicle in your blindspot. LED warning lights on the exterior mirrors are subtle but effective.

    Bang & Olufsen Audio
    Exceptional, well-defined sound quality, (although have still not properly tweaked all the settings yet). Father has a W204 2009 C-Class with the Harmon-Kardon Logic 7 and the B&O set-up does have a slight edge.

    Comfort Pack (with ACC + Parking System Plus + Park Assist)

    All-round parking sensors work well, (no different to the Parking System Plus + Park Assist on previous Golf and just as accurate) – although have yet to try the bay-parking option. Adaptive Cruise Control doesn’t take long to get used to but is an excellent system and have never had a reason to mistrust it (yet). When ACC is not on, the radar keeps working and forms park of the Audi Pre-Sense system. This gives visual and acoustic warnings if you are too close to a vehicle in front. If you’re a motorway tailgater, don’t tick this option.

    Sports Suspension
    Comfortable and works well with the 18’ S-Line Wheels. Smoothes out 99% of bumps very well and only jolts slightly over larger potholes. Still much better than my previous Golf (which was on 18’ Wheels and Sports suspension) and miles better than the ride in the 1-Series and A-Class.

    Electric Folding Door Mirrors
    Includes kerb-view auto-adjustment. Works well and mirrors can be set to fold automatically when locking (via MMI).

    Ext Interior Mono-Pur
    Adds to the luxurious feel of the interior. Includes contrasting stitching on the door handles and door armrests all-round, and leather on the knee pads by the centre console.

    Fine-Nappa Leather Seats

    Seats are very comfortable. No need for lumbar support - seats are neither too soft nor too hard. However, do agree with previous reviews that the seats aren’t really supportive enough to be classed as proper ‘sports-seats’. Was originally going to go for the Alcantara, but had a last-minute change of heart.

    Heated Front Seats
    Essential – especially with the leather! Seats heat up very fast.

    Hill Hold Assist
    Highly recommended – and works very well with stop-start and the S-Tronic gearbox. When you stop, keep your foot lightly pressed on brake for HHA to kick in, or press firmer for stop-start to also engage. Simple.

    Interior Light Pack
    Great option and creates a lovely ambience to the vehicle. Fully configurable in the MMI.

    Non-Smoking Package
    Don’t smoke so no need for a cigarette lighter – am happy with the 12V plug. No need for the cup ashtray.

    Panoramic Glass Sunroof

    Let in lots of light into the flight-deck…sorry…cabin. Can be opened via tilt function or slides back. Does not rob head-room (unlike conventional sunroofs as lifts up and over the roof when on slide-function). Not too much buffeting at speed. Note this is not the full-length panoramic roof that was seen on the 8P (i.e. only single glass panel).

    Privacy Glass
    Just a personal thing on this – quite like the way it looks on the Sportback.

    Reversing Camera
    Useful when reversing into tight spots. Can also be switched on when not in reverse at low-speed, (just hit the parking system button on dash beside hazards button – in case you want to see how close cars behind you are getting in traffic).

    Technology Package

    Works with typically Audi-ish simplicity. Worth the money for the functionality, (although – I’m sure the SD-card based would suffice just as well). All down to preference.

    Load-Through System
    Should be standard (come on Audi…). Bought mainly for the armrest and cup-holders for rear passengers on longer journeys – as opposed to loading long objects through the cabin.

    Tyre Pressure Monitor

    Another thing that should be standard – essential to know if your tyres are losing air.

    4 Year Warranty
    If keeping the car for more that 3 years, for the extra few hundred pounds, it’s probably a worthwhile investment.

    In summary, it’s a lovely car. Gear-changes are generally silky smooth and the ride is nice and comfortable. It’s very competent on the road but then I’m not the sort of person to drive the car on its door handles so don’t intend on pushing it to its limits. From what I’ve experience so far, it’s probably all the car most drivers would ever need, (although if you’re a high-mileage user, probably best going for one of the diesels). MPG wise, I’ve been getting 30mpg in town and 48mpg on the motorway - not bad at all for a new petrol engine that’s not been fully run in.

    I would also add that, although I am lucky enough to find myself in an S-Line model, I have also had the pleasure of driving an SE 1.4 TFSI Sportback S-Tronic model in the last week and can genuinely say that I wouldn’t feel hard-done by if my budget only allowed for this spec – even that is a great car, (and the 16’ Wheels and standard suspension were certainly a better match for rutted London streets). Engine was a peach, also.

    One thing you can certainly rely on with Audi is their competency when it comes to the basic things. The wipers clear the windscreen immaculately, the lights illuminate the roadway perfectly, the side-mirrors provide good visibility, the interior is bullet proof (way more solid than even the A4 / A5), the boot is a good, practical size and the doors shut with a reassuring ‘thunk’ that you just don’t get with any other comparable vehicle.

    Sensible, refined and restrained. Probably sums up the A3 Sportback nicely!
    #1
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  3. cemerson
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    cemerson Well-Known Member

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    [Nov 4, 2013]
    TPMS will be standard soon, as cars sold in the UK have to have it from Nov 2014 by law I believe.
    #2
  4. paullowther
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    paullowther Member

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    [Nov 4, 2013]
    Great review mate, cheers for taking the time to do it. You're just getting me more excited to try out all the gadgets!
    #3
  5. Itguy
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    Itguy Active Member

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    [Nov 4, 2013]
    Great write up.

    Have you used the ACC in stop/go traffic yet? I'm very interested to hear how well this works as my commute is terrible with queuing / crawling traffic on the motorway and dual carriageway. Hoping it will make my life a lot easier!
    #4
  6. chippy1970
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    chippy1970 Member

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    [Nov 4, 2013]
    I've got the sport model, the stop start works very well. Its our first car with it and its fine. Various things stop it working ie air conditioning. It cuts off and you get the green icon appear on the dash. As soon as you put your foot on the clutch it starts in seconds so its fine in traffic.
    #5
  7. Itguy
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    Itguy Active Member

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    [Nov 4, 2013]
    Ahh - you misunderstand me.

    Stop/start - engine cutting out when stationary
    Stop/go - adaptive cruise control automatically braking the car to stationary when in queuing traffic and then driving off again itself when the traffic starts moving
    #6
  8. chippy1970
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    chippy1970 Member

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    [Nov 4, 2013]
    :-( oh I haven't got that
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  9. M_D_O_London
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    M_D_O_London Member

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    [Nov 5, 2013]
    No problem at all - plenty of gadgets, that's for sure!

    Just thought it's worth jotting down what I think of various options etc just so others can then can figure out if worth speccing with their own vehicles. If anyone has any questions on anything I've got in the car, hopefully I'll be able to assist!
    #8
  10. M_D_O_London
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    M_D_O_London Member

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    [Nov 5, 2013]
    Cheers, Itguy.

    Re the ACC, I have used it in traffic but actually can't fully recall how it worked when coming to a complete standstill. If I remember correctly, the car came to a stop behind the vehicle in front on its own but I then instinctively lightly placed my foot on the brake pedal which meant the HHA kicked in. Once traffic started to move again, I accelerated manually and then hit resume on the Cruise Control stalk which then re-activated the ACC to re-establish my previous speed whilst maintaining the set distance from the vehicle in front.

    Next time I get stuck in standstill traffic whilst using ACC, will test out the system again and see if can do without pressing the brake pedal at all once stationary, (but will cover the pedal with my foot - just in case!).
    #9
  11. Itguy
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    Itguy Active Member

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    [Nov 5, 2013]
    Ha! It will take some nerve to try it the first time no doubt!

    i must admit handing over control to the car is a bit scary but clearly is the way forward for the motorway driving, including lane assist!
    #10
  12. cemerson
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    cemerson Well-Known Member

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    [Nov 5, 2013]
    If you touch the brake the ACC turns itself off, so probably why. Mine (manual) slows the car down to about 5-10mph (as long as you put the clutch in, or are in an appropriate gear for the speed), then beeps at you to take over (gives you plenty of distance). I've got used to it now, but did have similar feelings to when I first used regular cruise control of feeling slightly out of control at first. Just a case of getting used to the system really, but it works fantastically well. Don't have to touch any pedals (other than gear change) on the motorway at all - and if it isn't in rush hour or something you wouldn't even have to bother with gear change I imagine.
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  13. Itguy
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    Itguy Active Member

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    [Nov 5, 2013]
    Sounds perfect, one of the reasons I've gone with s-tronic actually
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  14. cemerson
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    cemerson Well-Known Member

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    [Nov 5, 2013]
    I think ACC will be nice with S-tronic. It wasn't enough of a reason for me to switch from manual though. Perhaps next time!
    #13

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