AUDI A3 1.8 Turbo

Stylish pocket rocket

AUDI A3 1.8 TurboTurbo-charged 1781ccm in-line 4 cylinder, DOHC-20 Valve engine
110kw @ 5700rpm
210Nm @ 1750rpm
0-100km/h: 8.5 sec.
v.max: 212km/h

I can still remember Granddad's old Audi 80, a flimsy automobile which didn't draw much attention, had meager performance and even less charm about it. As we all know, those days have passed and Audi made a strong comeback with it's 500 series, which was then backed up by the A6 and A4 series. No doubt about it, the folks at Ingolstadt are now making cars that make the guys in Munich and Stuttgart forget about each other. To put it simply, any Audi of today is an excellent counterpart and rival to a Mercedes-Benz or BMW. We did have to wait a while before the A3 made it's debut in southern Africa, but it enjoys the privelage of having no serious rivals except for the new Gti Golf, and that's basically the same car with 4 doors.

BM never brought its 3 series Compact to town, and the A-Class Merc just doesn't match up to the A3.

As mentioned before, the clever Audi engineers managed to nick a Gti Golf from VW and simply put a new body onto it. Put the two cars next to each other and you won't notice it, but take their metal coats off and you're left with identical values.

The Gti is heavier and an entirely different car, yet similarities can't be denied. However, as I've had the pleasure of driving a Gti, and can report that the A3 is the more agile and willing car. It's got fewer kg's to cart around and roadholding benefits immensely from a shorter rear overhang.

It's got 2 huge doors (watch out where you park!) and the rear seats can seat two to three adults. Above-average people do have trouble getting and staying in… and large hats, 80's hair or wiggs are not friends with the A3. Buy an A6 or A8 if you plan to cart around a Basketball team, as the A4 series is riddled with cramped rear legroom. The front seats offer excellent support and seemed comfy on my short trip. The instruments are clearly marked and lit (the speedo has rather unusual scaling) and the controls and instruments are well placed and marked. The car's interior is put together very well and also features some secret storage compartments and good glovebox and oddment space. To boot (excuse the pun), boot space is above average for a hatchback and should carry a full set of make-up suitcases and a few bottles of wine for Daddy when you're heading back home.

The engine in this Audi is… well, let's be honest, a VW engine. It's an 1800 4-potter with 5 valves per cylinder (totalling 20 Valves) and a nifty little device called a turbocharger. Short insight: A turbine next to the engine is driven by the fast-exiting exhaust gases and in turn shoves fresh air back into the inlet system of the motor. It's like spoon-feeding a child. It all goes so much faster than when the offspring is left to it's own devices!

As the specs will tell you, the A3 gets most of its power at a pleasantly low 1750rpm when the turbo kicks in. You can't feel the turbo, but try anything silly under 1500rpm and the engine will respond like any non-turbo, weak-knee'd 1800 powerplant would. The greatest advantage the turbocharged motor gives you is an amazing amount of torque across the whole rev-range. Unlike the old 8-valve 1600 and 1800 VW engines, which would race up to 4500rpm and then hit a wall, this motor pulls firmly and evenly from 1500 to 6000rpm. Nasty comparison, I know.

Out on the open road the Audi cruises beautifully, the low road noise was a pleasure and initiated a 5-minute struggle to figure out the sound system. The audio equipment seemed powerful with lots of clarity and should gladly pump the latest MotherMix, albeit the CD changer not enjoying powerful bass too much.

Once I got out of town (and managed to kill the sound system) I got to know the car better. Even at speeds over 100km/h, bumps and potholes don't shake the cute little Audi, and I couldn't perceive a single rattle. The aforementioned torque comes in very handy when overtaking, put your foot down in fifth and let the turbo do the rest, there's no need to change up. And this was the overall impression I got of the car and its powerplant… get the revs over 2 grand and it pulls firmly in any gear. A sprint from 0-100km/h confirmed the 8,5 seconds I was told and the A3 accomplished it without breaking a sweat. The engine could be heard, but the sound wasn't worrying or intrusive, neither was it exilirating or aggressive, thus the small Audi invites you to rather let the torque do the work for you and change up earlier.

Overall, the little A3 is a sexy hatchback with big-car attitude, performance, finish and fittings. It's roadholding and the brakes are amazing and the engine is a powerhouse of torque with no hints given to the existence of a turbocharger, except below 1500rpm. Perfect for single students with not too many motorless friends who play Basketball. For you nearest bank branch consult the menu to your right.

Great looks
Loads of torque
Good brakes
The gals love it.

Getting into the back... but then you should have bought an A6
Radio/CD controls
Oud**s CD changer didn't like BUMP7 or Mothermix2000
the gals love it (chick car?)

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