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With the A3 sedan, Audi intends to reach a wider audience to garner volumes in the Indian market, which means more options for buyers. We drive the latest Audi to see if it meets the expectations

AUDI IN India has been on a roll for a while now. Little wonder then that the German carmaker wants to keep the momentum going in one of the most important markets in the world. It's also accepted that Audi needed a product that would garner volumes for it -- something that is more affordable, yet unmistakably an Audi.

So, enter the A3.

Internationally, the A3 is available in a variety of body styles including a Sportback, a hatch and the recently Audi unveiled Cabrio version. But in India, the company plans to get the sedan with which it intends to mop up volumes and give an edge over the competition.

Its main competitors, BMW and Mercedes, have launched the 1- series and the A- class respectively, which are premium hatchbacks.

But for reasons best known to Indian customers, they don't associate premiumness with hatchbacks. Hence, the advantage of perception might tilt in favour of the A3, with its sedantype body styling.

From the front, the A3 with the large grille incorporating the ringed logo in the centre flanked by slim and stylish Xenon lights and LED daytime running lamps looks appealing. One can also opt for all- LED headlamps, which will certainly serve better on dark roads. In profile, the A3 with a length of 4,240mm comes across as a compact sedan. The rear with its LED tail lamps and integrated lip spoiler on the boot give the sedan a sporty appearance.

On the inside, the luxury factor is quite evident. The dash looks good and the power- retractable 7in screen is a smart touch. The A3 comes with dual zone climate control, which can be operated using rotary dials on the centre console. The top- of- the- line version, S- line, which we drove, comes loaded with a comprehensive MMI system. The A3 gets a multifunction steering wheel with controls for the music system, trip computer and Bluetooth connectivity. The S- line can be also ordered with a panoramic sunroof, which certainly lights up the all- black interiors. The quality of switches and buttons is quite good as people have come to expect from Audi. The seats too are comfortable and offer good lower back support.

Plus, Audi does offer multiple options of customisation as well.

At the back, the A3 is best suited to seat two, but a third person can be squeezed in with a little bit of discomfort. Adding to the A3' s versatility is the 425- litre boot that can be expanded considerably by folding the rear seats, which have a 60: 40 split ratio.

In the international markets, the A3 comes with a range of engines. Starting from the small 1.2- litre TFSI petrol offering 105bhp to the loaded 2.0 TDI producing 184bhp.

The 1.4- litre TFSI petrol engine comes with Cylinder On Demand ( COD) system, which can shut down two of the four cylinders when not required.

The gearbox range includes the seven- speed S tronic as well as a six- speed manual. In India, the A3 will come with two engine options. The diesel variant will get the 2.0 TDI unit, while the petrol will be armed with the 1.8- litre TFSI engine.

At tick over, this petrol motor is barely audible. At low speeds in the city, the S tronic gearbox shifts seamlessly into higher gears to extract the best fuel economy. The start- stop function, which has become a standard feature these days, too helps in reducing fuel consumption.

Immaterial of the speeds one is doing, the gearbox remains alert. The moment you step on the throttle, it quickly downshifts to provide brisk acceleration. Audi claims a 100kmph dash in eight seconds and given the state of tune of the 1.8- litre engine, it's very much possible. The steering is light making the car extremely manoeuvrable in city traffic, but as speeds climb it continues to return decent amount of feedback.

VERDICT

The A3 is a good option for India. It will take on the premium hatchbacks and can give competition to cars in the lower price bracket.

Loved the quality of the interiors and the smoothness of the petrol motor.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Nov 3, 2013
Words:750
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