2005 Audi A3 For Sale in Gauteng, JohannesburgR 82 000
IS it a wagon? Is it a hatchback? Or is it a coupé? Actually, it’s Sportback, Audi’s cleverly styled and adeptly positioned 5-door A3, first of the company’s “entry” range to wear the marque’s new droopy – Ingolstadt calls it “singleframe”– grille.
The new model, with a raked rear roofline that endows it with a totally different profile from the new VW Golf (with which it shares its platform and some engines), is now on sale in South Africa in eight variants, powered by a choice of three different engines driving through three different gearboxes (for more details, see CAR guide in this issue).
And one of the more interesting versions on offer is the Sportback 2,0T FSI DSG Ambition featured in this test. Eschewing the pricey quattro drivetrain, but featuring the state-of-the-art double-clutch DSG gearbox, it slots right into the price segment of small designer wagons such as the Alfa 156 Sportwagon, and exclusive performance hatches such as the Saab 9-3 2,0T Arc, Opel’s Astra GSi and VW’s Golf GTI.
Under the bonnet is the turbocharged direct petrol injection 2,0-litre d-o-h-c four already on offer in the Golf GTI. Interestingly, Audi quotes capacity as 1 984 cm³, whereas VW spec sheets state 1 985, presumably a case of rounding off upwards or downwards. Peak outputs are given as 147 kW between 5 000 and 6 000 r/min (the first time we’ve come across an engine where the power ostensibly remains constant across a wide rev range, which obviously coincides with a steady decrease in torque), and 280 N.m between 1 800 and 5 000 r/min.
The engine drives the front wheels through a six-speed DSG gearbox with its electrohydraulically controlled twin clutch, which literally pre-selects the next gear to provide virtually uninterrupted traction. Suspension is by MacPherson struts and lower wishbones in front, and a four-link axle at the rear. Steering is rack and pinion with electro-hydraulic assistance, brakes are discs all round (ventilated in front), and ABS, BAS and EBD are standard. The turbo models and 3,2-litre V6 also have ESP.
Although not labelled an Avant – Audi PR material says it is an A3 with extra space, rather than an estate – with its third side window the Sportback does look like a truncated version of the A4 designer wagon. The sporty look is underlined by 17- inch alloy wheels wrapped in 45- series rubber that fill the slightly flared wheelarches. I
n fact, the Sportback is 83 mm longer than the three-door A3, and takes slightly more luggage than a Golf – our ISO-block measurement recorded a primary load capacity of 312 dm3, which expands to 1 016 dm3 with the rear seatbacks folded forward. A 60:40 split allows a variety of load options, and an optional “luggage compartment pack” adds a net that can be fastened to the floor or rear-seat backrest, a small-items net to one side, and a power socket in the load bay. A flip-up luggage cover with a small parcel net is standard.
Interior finish is premium level, with high-quality materials throughout. Up front, the driver sits behind a new-style wheel with a trapezoidal central element echoing the single-frame grille, again the first small Audi to be thus equipped. Among the standard features are dual-zone climate control, electric windows all round, remote central locking, radio/CD player with remote controls on the steering wheel, and a trip computer. Among the passive safety equipment are belt pretensioners and load-limiters, front and side airbags for frontseat passengers, and Sideguard head-level airbags covering front and rear compartments.
The facia, finished in highquality soft-feel laminate, is black with brightwork detailing. Controls and instruments follow usual Audi practice, including unusual temperature adjustment knobs for the climate control system, which require a firm shove to register. In usual Audi style, instrument lighting is in red, as opposed to VW’s ice blue. The electronically-operated manual double-clutch gearbox is activated by an auto-style shifter, with the usual PRND positions, as well as an S (Sport) mode and a +- Tiptronic slot. Manual shifting can also be effected using paddles behind the wheel spokes.
The standard seat spec in the FSI Ambition DSG is black leather, but the test car came with optional grey suede inserts. The front sports seats offer a good range of positions, and are comfy and supportive. The rear bench, with its split back, is also comfy, and there’s adequate legroom for back-seat passengers.
Following the lead of BMW, the Sportback can be specified with a whole range of options at extra cost. Among the listed items are sports suspension that lowers the body by 15 mm, a large-area glass roof stretching from windscreen to rear window, roof rails, xenon headlights, auto anti-dazzle interior rear-view mirror, auto-on headlights with a see-you-home function, a special interior lights package that illuminates items such as interior doorhandles, footwells, door-sills, vanity mirrors and storage compartments, cruise control, parking sensors with acoustic warning, navigation with acoustic route guidance (available from October 2005) integrated with a special Bose DVD/sound system, mobile cellphone preparation with Bluetooth compatibility, and seat heaters. In addition, there’s an S Line exterior package (R16 000), which includes modified front and rear bumpers, S Line detailing and badging on grille and side panels, special scuff plates, and an S Line rear spoiler.
This must be one of the great feel-good cars. Fire up the turbomotor and head out onto the road, and you’re immediately struck by the responsiveness and agility provided by the engine/gearbox/suspension package. Leave the shifter in the D position and – unlike every other electronically-shifted manual, box – the changes are as smooth as those of a state-of-the-art automatic. Move the selector to S and use the throttle in anger, and the shifts are accomplished with even greater urgency, the changes timed as precisely as an expert driver – and we’re talking an expert in the Fangio mould here – would manage with a slick manual, box. Alternatively, you can select the ratios yourself, using the lever or the nicely positioned paddles. In fact, one of the real strengths of this car is the perfect positioning of the controls – for gearshift, sound system and information – on the wheel.
The feeling of control is enhanced by the light yet positive feel of steering and brakes, and the high levels of grip. Like its Golf GTI sister, the Sportback has great body control, but Audi achieves this is in a more cosseting way. The steering is quick, and the car goes where you point it, with the ESP stepping in when the front wheels begin to scrabble or wash wide through feeding in too much power, or when the rear begins to move on a trailing throttle.
And, with all of this, the ride is firm but compliant, again in a typically Audi way. Undulations are handled with aplomb, and shocks from sharper ridges are absorbed long before they reach the passenger compartment.
Put through our formal performance- testing programme, the 2,0T FSI recorded impressive times. There’s a special launch control mode that allows you to rev the motor up to about 2 800 r/min against the brake with the traction control switched out. Releasing the pedal has the car chirping off the line with just the right amount of wheelspin. Our best run resulted in a 0-100 km/h time of 8,05 seconds, and 29,15 seconds for the kilometre. Top speed was measured at a true 230 km/h.
Braking was also impressive, the Sportback recording an average stopping time of 2,80 seconds in our punishing 10-stop 100-to-zero procedure.
In addition to providing optimum performance, the DSG system generally provides better economy than a normal manual gearbox. This was confirmed by the 2,0T FSI Sportback, whose fuel index worked out at 9,47 litres/100 km, slightly better than the figure for the (lighter) similarly-engined manual-shift VW Golf GTI tested recently.
With the Sportback, Audi has created an exciting new niche that combines the style of a coupé with the practicality of a five-door hatchback. Complemented by the superb 2,0T FSI engine and DSG transmission, the package is really special. The new breed of direct injection petrol engines are powerful and fuel-efficient, and the DSG ’box is currently without peer, providing the kind of performance and economy you’d expect from a manual transmission car with the smooth, laid-back action of a state-of-the-art automatic.
Contact the Seller
Automatic Audi A3 for sale by Chat2Cars in South Africa.