Hungary is a country rich in history, it has undergone subjugation and seen great success through occupation by a remarkable number of empires, the Roman and the Ottoman to name but two. This can be seen in the abundance of architectural styles from Turkish to Gothic to Neo-classical, which make up the stunning capital city of Budapest.
Originally two cities Budapest became a single city occupying both banks of the river Danube with the unification on the 17th November 1873, of Buda and Óbuda on the West bank and industrial Pest on the East. It is cited as being one of the most beautiful cities in the world, so I was delighted when Audi invited Auto Trader News to the first drive of their newest model the A3. The Audi plant in Gyór has been expanded to manage the production of the A3 and Audi has in recent years emerged as one of Hungary’s most important exporters and highest revenue businesses, so it seemed entirely fitting that they should choose the same country to launch the A3.
The Sporty A3 Sedan will be available in Dubai Q1 2014. Audi is entering the World’s largest market segment of compact sedans, competing with the likes of the Lexus IS and the Mercedes CLA and their premium entry level offerings. Audi will do well. They have given us a nimble, lightweight design with an appealingly athletic edge. On board tech is top of the line with a gamut of infotainment systems and driver assists, creating an extremely appealing experience.
Aimed at the young 2 + 1 (2 +2 might be pushing it!) family, the A3 weighs in at a dainty 1,250kg with 15.01 cubic ft of luggage space in the four-door 1.4 TFSI. 4,460 mm in length notchback styling with the dynamics of a convertible and flared wheel arches add to the sports orientation of this car. From the front the single–frame radiator grille remains the primary Audi design feature along with the prominent edge of the Tornado line. All LED headlights are optional along with light emitting diodes in the taillights.
The interior is sophisticated and logical, angled slightly towards the driver and the centre console is populated with coherent controls which quickly become familiar.
The A3 will be initially available with two engines, with the 1.4 and 1.8 TFSI units available in the Middle East from Q1 2014. I drove both the 1.4 and the 1.8 models and was pleasantly impressed by their performance. The cars achieved 0-100kph in 8.4 and 7.3 seconds respectively and were reliably informed by Audi that the 1.8 has a top speed of 235km/h, something I was unable to put to the test on the pretty, if not slightly overlooked and under maintained Hungarian roads!
Various driving routes organised by Audi however gave us plenty of opportunity to garner information on the handling, comfort and efficiency of the car. The manual, which again will not be released in the Middle Eastern market would normally have been my preferred weapon of choice, however after driving both the six-speed and the seven-speed S tronic one after the other, I would have to say that the difference in enjoyment was hard to pinpoint. In both transmissions the lower gears have shorter ratios with the highest gear the longest, ensuring a reduction in engine revs on extended motorway drives. When combined with Audi drive select dynamics system, which is standard with the Ambition line, the S tronic includes a free-wheeling function which further decreases fuel consumption….clever Audi!
What really impressed me about this car was the amount of, as quoted by Audi themselves, ‘ground-breaking: infotainment’. This is a comprehensive list which includes the option of a Bang & Olufsen sound system and the Audi Multi Media Interface (MMI) which by way of the control dial on the centre console, the driver can adjust the media, navigation, cabin environment etc, and make full use of the Audi connect system. By way of a mobile phone you can connect to the fully integrated WLAN hotspot, where passengers can access a number of services including navigation via Google Earth as well as Facebook and Twitter. Text messages can even be dictated and relayed to the driver along with up to the minute traffic data.
Audi have stated that by November 2013 the fourth generation (“4G”) in mobile communications technical standards will be available in the A3 sedan. This is of course limited to areas covered, which in the Middle East tends to be around densely populated areas and not so much when driving outside the city limits! The same can be said for the parking space locator, you may get lots of information about Dubai Mall parking but not so much about Festival City or the Outlet Mall! Let’s not take anything away from Audi though, they are providing the means to access the technology and cannot be held responsible for any nation’s speed of investment in communications infrastructure.
So how will the A3 measure up in the Middle East, will it be a popular buy? After driving the car I can see why it will be prevalent in Europe and America, it delivers just the right amount of safe, sporty, and efficient luxury that so many are looking for at the moment. It has the Audi/Volkswagen pedigree to back it up and you can’t take anything away from the thought that has been put into the design and production of this car. I do feel though that for the Middle Eastern Market with its tendencies towards higher powered and bigger engines, that the advent of the S3, a 2.0 TSFI (300bhp) monster achieving 100kph in just 4.9 seconds with S tronic, is when we will really be able to gauge the popularity of the car. The S3 will according to Audi be launched soon after the A3 reaches dealerships and I for one can’t wait to give it a try!
The following A3 models will be available from Q1 in the UAE
The 1.4 122hp S tronic starting from 92,000/-dhs
The 1.8 180hp S tronic starting from 109,500/-dhs
The 1.8 180hp S tronic Quattro starting from 119,500/-dhs
By Emily Paton