By on June 29, 2009

On paper, the Audi A3 TDI is an exercise in futility. The model shares platform bits with a Golf Rabbit. It’s smaller than a Jetta Sportwagen. It carries a lofty price premium; the diesel-powered A3 “boasts” the same engine that can be had across the street at the Vee-Dub for thousands less. It’s not as fast, sporty or capacious as the rear wheel-drive BMW 335d. By any rational measure, the A3 TDI is an answer to a question that few Americans even thought about asking. Which is why it’s better to judge the A3 TDI “in the flesh.”

The A3’s styling is becoming old-hat for us Yanks. The ’09 nip-tuck of the A3′s airdam, and the headlights, and the tail lamps update (complete with Audi-requisite LED blingery) have done nothing significant to either increase or decrease the model’s aesthetic appeal. The “new” A3’s “Sportback” shape still finds a comfortable middle ground between A5 sexy and Jetta Sportwagen dorky. Rumor has it that Audi is contemplating a trunk-ified sedan version of the A3 for US shores. And rumor it should remain lest Audi’s product planners receive the same swift blow to the back of the head I’ve given the Germans responsible for the ungainly BMW 1er. Metaphorically speaking.

There’s nothing new to see inside the A3 TDI. In fact, it’s hard to see anything inside the A3′s all-black interior. (Unlike this photo, our tester had cloth seats and no steering wheel controls.) Purists will continue to relish the Audi’s affectation-less cabin, with its robust materials, Teutonic haptics and simple, tasteful and effective ergonomics. That said, A3 TDI well-heeled buyers can opt for the same froo-froo wood inlay, chrome trim and “ambiance” color harmony decorating the car’s bigger siblings.

The A3′s bolstered and comfortable front buckets swallow six-footers with ease. The rear seats do not. A quibble: the Audi’s trip computer bongs after two hours elapse on the trip meter. I can only surmise that this means that it’s time to break for bier und schnitzel. (I obliged.)

The A3 TDI’s engine is only new in terms of Audis. The VW group’s 2.0-liter transversely-mounted four-banger stumps up 236 lb·ft of [3.2-liter V6-matching] torque. The lackluster 140 horsepower is irrelevant—unless you’re planning Baruthian speed runs. (Sixty miles per hour appears from rest just shy of nine seconds, though your calibrated rump will suggest that it’s a faster sprint.) For the other 100 percent of driving, torque’s where it’s at.

The engine’s usability is its real beauty. Lugging is a sport in a TDI; its Kansas-flat torque plateau spans 1750 to 2500 RPM. Swift, short-shifting of the long-throwing, yet precisely-sprung six-speed manual keeps the car in a constant forward acceleration. It’s not clear whether Audi will sell the A3 TDI mit stick stateside; the chances of a “stripper” A3 TDI joining its up market brethren on the showroom floor are, unfortunately, slim. The six-speed DSG paddle shift gearbox is sure to make an appearance. Sampling VW’s paddle shift gearbox in the Jetta TDI suggests that A3 TDI DSG buyers will sacrifice little enjoyment to the gods of automation.

In any case, the manual gearbox’s sixth cog keeps the TDI’s turbo on the boil, ready to pounce into the overtaking lane. Flat-out blasts on the Autobahn are a tiring exercise in mental awareness in any vehicle, but the little Audi feels relaxed and stable at its max speed of 129 mph.

The A3 TDI’s handling dynamics provide an excellent reason to trade up and leave Das Auto zu dem Volk. Body motions are well damped. Even with power fed to the front wheels, the A3’s Goodyears cling through corners with admirable if not inexhaustible tenacity. Even with a significant shove on the gas pedal at an inopportune moment, you’re more likely to see torque-induced wheelspin when exiting corners than plow at turn-in. In general, torque-steer demons are noticeable only by their absence.

The A3 TDI’s electric-assist steering is gratuitously boosted at about five mph and absolutely numb above 45 mph. While the helm is tight and reasonably precise, it offers little in the way of tactile feedback. So much for a non-Quattro helm feel bonus.

Whether or not the A3 TDI’s elevated sticker price (relative to VeeDub’s oil burner) proves an insurmountable barrier to American sales success remains to be seen. Audi sees this car as filling a vacant niche: “The Audi A3 moves into a market space presently unoccupied in the luxury segment, that of a highly efficient diesel small luxury car.” Again, who asked?

If price be damned, the Audi A3′s damned good. A thousand merciless miles of Alpine thrashing, traffic jam lugging, Black Forest dancing and wide-open Autobahn blasts set up the A3 TDI’s no-excuses punch line: 40 mpg average. Around 600 miles on a single fill-up. Diesel and Audi premium aside, that’s what I’m torquing about.

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47 Comments on “Review: 2010 Audi A3 2.0 TDI...”


  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    The A3 TDI offers none of that froo-froo wood inlay, chrome trimming and “ambiance” color harmony artfully decorating its bigger siblings.

    It does. If you check the right boxes when ordering.
    It’s really the same for the bigger siblings in Europe.

    Whether or not the A3 TDI’s elevated sticker price proves an insurmountable barrier to American sales success

    The A3 TDI is a few thousand € cheaper in Europe than a 2.0T. Any evidence that it will be the other way ’round in the land of the (diesel) free?

    the ungainly BMW 1er

    The coupe is ungainly. The 3-door hatch isn’t. Which could be what you intended to say.

  • avatar
    Rusty Brinkley

    I can only hope I can get this car via Military Sales, post-Japan assignment (aka 2012). I test-drove a petrol-powered version (at the insistence of one Mike Solowiow) of 2008 vintage and loved it.

  • avatar

    Mirko Reinhardt

    Good point on the interior. My bad. Text amended. The premimum here is relative to the Jetta diesel. Again, I shall make that clear.

  • avatar

    Mirko Reinhardt
    The A3 TDI is a few thousand € cheaper in Europe than a 2.0T. Any evidence that it will be the other way ’round in the land of the (diesel) free?

    If they follow VW’s lead with their TDI models, yes.

  • avatar
    Juniper

    Great torque curves in the Audi. What is the max RPM in this modern diesel?

  • avatar

    Any chance of getting an oil burner Quattro A3?

  • avatar
    qfrog

    While it isn’t possible on newer models… Back in ’06 or so the steering effort could be altered by changing a value block with a VAG-COM or similar computer interface.

    Also… the 8P A3 (this car) has been around since 2003 (04 MY). It is long in the tooth so to speak. Production is listed as starting 5/03 to be exact.

    In my warped and money no object opinion, the most conservative and palatable appearance for the 8P is had when the early front end components from the 2004 3 door are installed. The second and now (as shown) third iteration of front end body components are just ungainly and do nothing positive for the A3′s appearances.

  • avatar

    IIRC, VW dealers can adjust the level of the steering’s power assist, which might help the numbness. In the gas A3, going for the Sport Package option greatly improves handling. Then again, handling generally suffers with a diesel because of the extra weight.

    A number of VW TDI owners have been reporting MPG in the 40s, quite impressive in combination with the extra power of the new engine.

    And on the reliability front…results for the A3 are split. The 2007 and 2008 require few repairs, while the 2006s have been aging badly. Did Audi turn a corner a few years back, or just a matter of getting beyond the warranty? Time will tell.

    [url=http://www.truedelta.com/car-reliability.php?stage=pt&bd=Audi&mc=8&email=Guest]Audi A3 reliability comparisons[/url]

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    Mirko Reinhardt
    The A3 TDI is a few thousand € cheaper in Europe than a 2.0T. Any evidence that it will be the other way ’round in the land of the (diesel) free?

    Frank Williams :
    If they follow VW’s lead with their TDI models, yes.

    From Volkswagen USA’s website:

    Jetta wagon 2.0T: $26,065
    Jetta wagon TDI: $23,870

    What am I missing? The price differential seems to be similar to Euro-market models.

    @The Comedian :
    Any chance of getting an oil burner Quattro A3?

    Sure. In Europe, for example.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    It’s not as fast, sporty or capacious as the rear wheel-drive BMW 335i. By any rational measure, the A3 TDI is an answer to a question that few Americans even thought about asking.

    That seems a funny point. How much is the A3 versus the 335? Because if I look, the difference between the two is, give or take a few bucks, the price of a base Golf (I refuse to use the name “Rabbit”) 2.5L.

    I’d also argue about how spacious it is. The 3-Series sedans are about the size of a Honda Civic inside (half-truth: the Civic is roomier) and have a useless trunk. The A3 loses a few inches of headroom versus the Golf, but is otherwise pretty roomy.

    The A3’s bolstered and comfortable front buckets swallow six-footers with ease. The rear seats do not.

    That seems to be a European car thing (though the Lexus IS is pretty bad, too). The A4, if I recall, is even more cramped in the back than the A3, as are the Saab 9-3 and Volvo S60. But those front seats are easily the best in the business and can forgive a lot of sins.

    Rumor has it that Audi is contemplating a trunk-ified sedan version of the A3 for U.S.

    Oh, sure, that’ll work. It’ll either murder A4 sales and/or get killed by the Jetta. The only reason the A3 makes rational sense in Audi’s lineup is the bodystyle.

    The only reason to offer a sedan is if they intend to kill the hatch and favour of the Q5 or Q3. Acura could tell you a story or two about what happens to people coming into your brand (or rather, people not doing so) as a result of killing your entry-level model (RSX) in favour of a small crossover (RDX) and token sedan.

    Swift short-shifting of the long-throwing, yet precisely-sprung six-speed manual keeps the car in a constant forward acceleration

    That’s always bugged me about diesels: you have to shift quickly and in rapid suggestion because you have a terrifically narrow powerband between “turbos spooling up” and “annoyingly low redline”. It’s like the Celica GTS or RX-8, only instead of being north of 7000rpm (and thusly fun) it’s between 1500 and 2500 (and thusly like a truck).

    I like manuals, but I think I’d take the automatic just so I wouldn’t have to shift four of five times from every light.

    There’s nothing new to see inside the A3 TDI. In fact, it’s hard to see anything inside the A3’s all-black interior.

    That’s the best part of any Audi or VW: not having to deal with a choice Hertz Grey or Avis Beige. Black may look dour if you were raised on some of the tackier American interiors of yore, but it’s also attractive, classy and (my favourite) doesn’t show stains.

    I really like the A3. I’d have trouble picking it over the almost-as-nice Jetta or the slightly-nicer-and-bigger Passat (were the diesel an option here) as an only car, but as a complement to an existing vehicle (or if I didn’t have kids) I’m sold.

  • avatar
    Strippo

    I like manuals, but I think I’d take the automatic just so I wouldn’t have to shift four of five times from every light.

    I would think that the DSG would be relatively unpleasant for the same reason. This is one application where I might actually prefer a slushbox.

  • avatar
    John Holt

    Mirko Reinhardt
    The coupe is ungainly. The 3-door hatch isn’t. Which could be what you intended to say.
    In N.A., we only get the 1er coupe. I agree the 1er hatch is better looking – my point was analogous: a car designed as a hatch morphs poorly into a trunk-fitted sedan or coupe.

    @psarhjinian: Comparison was supposed to be 335d – text amended.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Comparison was supposed to be 335d – text amended.

    Yeah, but still, isn’t the 335d also much more expensive (and much faster and more capable) car?

    ETA: I stand corrected. Assuming the diesel shares the price premium similar to that of the Jetta, the A3 TDI should price out about the same as the 3.2, which puts it just under the (stripped and impossible to find) base 335d**. For that price you’d have to really, really want the hatchback.

    ** all Canadian figures.

  • avatar

    Interesting, relevant item at the bottom of a story about American stillborn diesel comeback in today’s Automotive News [sub]:

    In 2006, the EPA revised the way it determines real-world, “window sticker” fuel economy to reflect U.S. driving patterns. The EPA’s new sticker rulemaking assumes Americans drive 43 percent of their miles in city conditions and 57 percent on the highway.

    But under fleet average standards for corporate average fuel economy and CO2, vehicles are certified using 35-year-old test weighting of 55 percent city and 45 percent highway driving.

    “Diesel vehicles that perform very well at high-load and high-speed driving — where most of America’s fuel is used in the real world — are penalized,” says [consultant Kevin] McMahon. “Meanwhile, vehicles that perform very well in stop-and-go driving, like hybrids, are overrewarded.”

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @John Holt :
    my point was analogous: a car designed as a hatch morphs poorly into a trunk-fitted sedan or coupe.

    That’s something I can completely agree to. Evidence 1: Every Jetta sedan ever made. Yaris sedan. Corolla sedan. Civic sedan.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    “Diesel vehicles that perform very well at high-load and high-speed driving — where most of America’s fuel is used in the real world — are penalized,” says [consultant Kevin] McMahon. “Meanwhile, vehicles that perform very well in stop-and-go driving, like hybrids, are overrewarded.”

    Interesting. Is it really true that most vehicles spend 57 percent of the time at highway speeds in the US? I admittedly don’t travel much outside the major cities, but it seems like there’s a lot more gridlock and suburban grind than freeway coasting at 55+.

  • avatar
    John Holt

    @psarhjinian:

    335d is relevant only when comparing diesels. I think few people who consider diesels are cross-shopping with petrol models. My point was to illustrate the giant price gap given the very small playing field.

    That’s always bugged me about diesels: you have to shift quickly and in rapid suggestion because you have a terrifically narrow powerband between “turbos spooling up” and “annoyingly low redline”. It’s like the Celica GTS or RX-8, only instead of being north of 7000rpm (and thusly fun) it’s between 1500 and 2500 (and thusly like a truck).

    Matter of preference really – I’m a lugger, not a screamer. :)

  • avatar
    Brock_Landers

    Expensive small luxury car with stripped interior, small diesel engine and manual gearbox. Oxymoron to say at least.

    In Europe you get the the new Skoda Octavia Hatchback, with exactly the same engine, gearbox and near identical suspension, same equipment level, high quality Audi-level interior with LOT MORE space at 2/3 price of this A3.

    Still amazes me that people buy small Audis if you have Skodas like the new Octavia available. Badge snobbery at its peak.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @psarhjinian :
    Interesting. Is it really true that most vehicles spend 57 percent of the time at highway speeds in the US?

    RF’s Automotive News article doesn’t talk of time but of miles. Which makes sense, because few people measure fuel economy as “hours per gallon”.

    @John Holt :
    335d is relevant only when comparing diesels. I think few people who consider diesels are cross-shopping with petrol models. My point was to illustrate the giant price gap given the very small playing field.

    That’s only because America has a very small choice of diesel. In Europe, you can have a BMW 118d with very similar specs for very similar money. It’s good. Very good.
    You can also have A3 and 1er diesels with more power. Or less.

    I’m a lugger, not a screamer.

    Me too. It’s just more satisfying to have good thrust at 1500 rpm.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Grammatical correction:

    You aren’t supposed to end a sentence with a preposition. Ah, sentence diagramming has paid off!

    For the other 100 percent of driving, torque’s where it’s at.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    Brock_Landers :
    In Europe you get the the new Skoda Octavia Hatchback, with exactly the same engine, gearbox and near identical suspension, same equipment level, high quality Audi-level interior with LOT MORE space at 2/3 price of this A3.

    A Skoda Octavia doesn’t have a Audi-level interior, the recent facelift completely ruined the anonymously handsome styling, the suspension tuning is completely different – I highly doubt anybody would cross-shop those. Sure, it’s the same platform, but not the same kind of car. If the Audi was a Hugo Boss suit, the Skoda would be a maternity dress.

    I’m not saying the Skoda is bad – it’s good value, and the RS version with the 170hp TDI is very interesting – but it’s just not appealing to people who like the A3.

    Still amazes me that people buy small Audis if you have Skodas like the new Octavia available. Badge snobbery at its peak.

    Europeans don’t buy size – they buy (perceived) quality.

  • avatar

    jkross22

    Sorry, I’m playing the colloquialism card.

  • avatar
    John Holt

    @jkross22 : Ending sentences with prepositions is where it’s at!

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    RF’s Automotive News article doesn’t talk of time but of miles. Which makes sense, because few people measure fuel economy as “hours per gallon”.

    Fair point, but where you do most of your miles may not be where you use most of your fuel, so the real answer as to which is the most accurate portrayal may be a mix of the two. Case in point: last Thursday I used most of my fuel in, I think, three kilometers because it took me the better part of an hour to travel it. In first gear.

    And yes, I did run the air conditioning.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Herr Holt – a very nice write up and a small remedial German lesson ;)

    You leave “das Auto zu dem Volk”

  • avatar

    carguy

    My bad. Text amended.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Please stop writing reviews talking about how great the DSG is and how manual drivers will be just as happy. I own a DSG, and it is not even close to as satisfying as a manual car. It was a mistake to buy it actually….

    An auto review world of continuous heaps of praise on the DSG gearbox is precisely why the manuals are likely not to be offered on cars like this in the US.

    Please, stop ;)

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Ending a sentance with a preposition is something i would never think of. Especially when writing about cars of which which i am fond of.

    I like Audis. However I would rather buy a used A6 wagon, so my rear seat passengers do not have to remove their legs and place them in the large well lined trunk.

  • avatar

    I like manuals, but I think I’d take the automatic just so I wouldn’t have to shift four of five times from every light.

    Easy solution: Start in 2nd and then jump to 4th, or even 5th. With all that torque it CAN be done.

    I drive a Diesel all the time, and find it odd to jump into a modern gasoline 4-banger. They are buzzy and loud, especially at freeway speeds. The only time I’m aware of my TDI’s engine noise is when I’m idling at a stoplight, otherwise it is virtually silent. Nice to motor along at 70 MPH turning 2200 RPM.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    hurls

    Despite the fact that the 2.0T sounds sorta like it belongs in a tractor (at least from outside of the car) it really is such a freaking brilliant engine that I’d have a hard time choosing the oil burner over it — and I’m, generally speaking, a diesel fan.

    What would be interesting, to me at least, would be a diesel more in the class of the 123d engine, with >= gas engine performance and a (smaller but still significant) mileage boost. Doesn’t seem like anyone is even thinking about that for the US market — it’s either 140BPH in the TDI realm, or the honking 335d engine. Seems to me there’s a sweet spot in between that’s being missed.

  • avatar
    John Holt

    Chuck Goolsbee :
    They are buzzy and loud, especially at freeway speeds. The only time I’m aware of my TDI’s engine noise is when I’m idling at a stoplight, otherwise it is virtually silent. Nice to motor along at 70 MPH turning 2200 RPM.

    Agreed. This TDI has some clatter at idle (quite muted in the interior compartment) but is throaty and firm sounding at speed and when kicked, unlike the thrashy 2.0T.

    Regarding earlier complaints about shift-happiness, skip-shifts are EASY to do with the broad torque band, while freeway driving rarely requires downshifting out of 6th to pass.

    @Jerome10: I too prefer manuals, but the DSG is hard to ignore because it is so surprisingly good. Whether I’d opt to actually buy one or not, well the jury’s out on that one.

    @carguy: Thanks – lesson appreciated! (my German is horrendous at best)

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    With all that torque it CAN be done.

    I guess the trouble I’ve found is that there’s a lack of torque similar to a modern gas engine in the lower ranges. It comes on quickly, as would be typical of a turbocharged engine, but at low RPM (less than 1500rpm) it’s not quite there.

    And boy, does it drop like a stone after 2500rpm. Even if you start in second, you’re going to have to shift to third quickly. In a gas car, you’d be able to ride it out until 5-6000pm. In a blown gas car you’d already be breaking the law. I’m not advocating burning out at every intersection, but it did get to me after a while, and it did leave me wanting for an automatic when, normally, I’d be loving shifting it myself.

    I got stuck in awful traffic through Turin once and, let me tell you, my left shin muscles were begging for the sweet, sweet relief of an automatic.**

    At risk of starting a Hybrid-vs-Diesel slapfest, this is where a hybrid does really well. In city, you get the full torque swell from zero, which is nice. But I agree that a diesel really is the engine of choice for long-haul, high-speed work.

    ** It hurts to write that.

  • avatar
    johnxyz

    hurls ,

    “Despite the fact that the 2.0T sounds sorta like it belongs in a tractor (at least from outside of the car) it really is such a freaking brilliant engine that I’d have a hard time choosing the oil burner over it — and I’m, generally speaking, a diesel fan.”

    Has the latest version of VW/Audi Corporate 2.0T turbo gas engine been revised for improved oil circulation through its oil journals? The earlier 1.8T’s do suffer from that – engine sludge and silly oil requirements 0W Mobil One.

    Also any thought on the turbo in the 2.0 generating too much heat being so near other vital engine components – has it been relocated?

    Lastly is the Secondary Air Intake Pump been upgraded or re-designed out of the latest 2.0? Many have said that the emissions control system on the 1.8T (US market)was a source of reliability issues?

    I have a ’00 Passat and I’m in the market for a new replacement – just wondering about these (perceived) weaknesses. I’d like a Passat wagon TDI – any such luck in the near future for this model to come to the US (not too hot on the Jetta TDI wagon from Mexico….)? Sorry if this was too Off-Topic but you guys are in the know! Thanks.

  • avatar
    hurls

    @johnxyz:

    I claim ignorance. I’ve had a 2.0T in my garage for all of two weeks (in an A4 Avant) and I can only speak for the performance (with the upgraded version of the 2.0T in that car) and it’s really quite spectacular for a car that heavy getting 20 MPG southern california urban/surface street driving before being even remotely broken in.

    I had read about the issues with some of the previous generations of this engine family (though my neighbor’s 1.8T passat has been pretty flawless for 8 or 9 years — minus replacing all the coils this winter), and that combined with the fear and loathing of sludge that I lived through while owning a 2.3 liter “ecopower” saab turbo convinced me that this engine would be best enjoyed over the worry-free duration of a lease.

    I’m curious about the answers here too, as with just 800 miles on the clock, I’m already thinking this car could be a keeper when the lease is up in three years.

  • avatar
    Strippo

    You aren’t supposed to end a sentence with a preposition.

    When “at” is used to mean the same thing as “located” then it’s not being used as a preposition.

    “Where you stay at?” is wrong, of course. Instead you should say: “Where at you stay?” It ain’t complicated.

  • avatar

    Just to be contrary, I actually see a place for an A3 sedan in the U.S. — or at least it would be the kind of car I’d be interested in.

    I really liked the B8-vintage A4. Whatever its reliability woes, it was an attractive, entertaining, classy sedan with a fairly attainable price. Since then, however, the A4 has gotten bigger, fatter, and pricier, past the point where I would consider it. That leaves a gap that would send buyers like me looking at, say, the Acura TSX.

    As for clashing with the Jetta — I think the Jetta needs to retrench in the C-segment, rather than trying to price itself like a near-luxury car. The Jetta is a car of few virtues, in my mind. Ithas nice interior trim, but the exterior causes me pain; not as much as the new TSX, but pain, nonetheless. Its engine lineup doesn’t inspire at all, it’s hopelessly overweight, and its reliability and customer-satisfaction are appalling. I wouldn’t even test-drive one.

    I don’t know that Audi would be any more reliable, but it would at least offer a better warranty and probably a loaner car while it was in the shop…

    The big sticking point, of course, is whether Audi could make it look decent or priced attractively at this point, which is an open question. Styling-wise, I think the entire auto industry is in another mid-70s doldrums of uniformly ugly and tasteless design.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    30,000 dollars…

  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    I’m very pleased with my ’09 A3 2.0T DSG. Its black interior–which I fully expected to be dour–is really helped by the (tastefully restrained) use of interior brightwork and the selection of a light-coloured textile for the roof pillars and headliner. But an even bigger factor is the two-panel glass roof (aka Open Sky System) which the tester TDI apparently lacked. When VAG lowered the Golf’s roof to make the A3, they made the greenhouse a lot more shallow. It gives the car a decidedly sportier profile compared to a Golf, but on the inside it really helps to replace that missing glass from the sides with more on the roof.

    As for diesels, I like them–but the affection is more intellectual than visceral. However, I could see A3 Sportback TDIs selling well as second cars to buyers who already have an A5/A6/A8 (or the like) in the garage. Perfect for grocery-getting, teenage drivers … and those occasions when you want to project a more politically-correct image, without actually slumming.

  • avatar
    dimitris

    A bit late to the thread, but anyway…

    The other day I received a VW 2010 model brochure addressed to the previous residents. In the section about the MkVI Golf I was happy to see that:

    - The Golf TDI is back, and
    - the TDI is the only Golf trim with available “sport seats” and “sport suspension” options. In fact the TDI seems to be the only “premium” Golf trim, as other “premium” options like upgraded sound and satellite radio are also only available on the TDI.
    - Oh. I almost forgot: Available in 6MT and DSG :-)

    It’s not quite the GTD, but VWoA’s apparent decision to finally mix diesel and “sportiness” makes me very happy.

    After 11 years in a B5 A4 (with which I’m fairly happy), I think my tastes have evolved towards something a little more understated and with more tangible benefits.

    So, the question y’all knew was coming: Why the A3 over the MkVI Golf TDI?

  • avatar

    I just can’t get over the fact that a VW Golf TDI is almost as nice, has, to my eye, better styling, and is so much cheaper. Of course, the one thing I would want in the VW that they only offer in the Audi is a light colored interior. Why performance models always have black interiors is a mystery to me.

    And a better comparison might be to the Euro only 120d. There is no question that I’d take a 5 door 1 series over an A3 any day of the week, too bad they don’t offer it here.

    For some reason the US gets the worst sort of packaging on premium hatches and then the manufacturers complain that they don’t sell. Most people buying a hatch are pretty practical minded, so bring over a 5 door before the 3 door. Many of them would rather have frugal, fun engines, so a turbo 4 or diesel is better than a 6. Don’t make them so heavy and so large that you might as well get the next class up. And, if you are worried about cannibalizing sales of your next model up, well, then make the next model up better to justify the cost, don’t bloat the crap out of your small car to make it almost a wash (BMW 1 series anyone?)

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    Some friends drove down for a gathering with us recently in a brand new TDI Jetta wagon 6 speed. They reported 48.6 mpg.

    Yea, I’d rather have that than a hybrid.

    Back when I was driving diesels alot in Europe – in traffic – I’d go 1st, 3rd, 5th. It provided plenty of speed without alot of revving.

    I like the Audi and will prob seriously consider the Jetta wagon. The Audi wagon far beyond what I would pay for a new car. Perhaps used. TDI + manual please…

  • avatar
    ohsnapback

    Why would anyone pay the ridiculous premium for an Audi when they can get the same basic car with a VW badge for about 30%+ less?

    Audi; the VW with a premium badge that matches it’s sibling’s unreliability at a price that’ll make you cry that much harder.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    “Has the latest version of VW/Audi Corporate 2.0T turbo gas engine been revised for improved oil circulation through its oil journals? The earlier 1.8T’s do suffer from that – engine sludge and silly oil requirements 0W Mobil One.”

    JohnXYZ, my understanding is that it’s even worse than that. From what I’ve seen, supposedly VW won’t even settle for Mobil 1 or other “hydrocracked” mineral-oil derivatives. Only their house-brand synthetic, or another true synthetic like Amsoil, will do.

    Blame the “fake synthetic” thing on Castrol, which introduced the inferior performance of hydrocracked oil labeled as “true synthetic,” then won a lawsuit that allowed them to label it as such. Ironic from a company that spends so much ad money on its supposed heavy-duty capabilities.

  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    Why would anyone pay the ridiculous premium for an Audi when they can get the same basic car with a VW badge for about 30%+ less?

    You’re overstating the case … at least as far as the Canadian market is concerned. When I bought my A3 it came down to it and one other car–a GTI. In a fair comparison, the A3 (in premium trim) was about $4k more than a 5-door DSG GTI with leather . The Audi easily had $3k more content (power seat, open sky, xenon lights, rain-sensing wipers, bluetooth, etc etc) and to my eye it looked $1k better.

    I didn’t have to make that call however, because I picked up a factory demo with 4000 miles on it for less than any local VW store would straight sale me a new GTI. When I factored in that the GTI was being replaced with a new body for 2010, but the A3 would remain current for another model year or two, it was a no brainer.

    As for the equally unreliable bit … I’ve had zero problems to date and the owner surveys of the last couple of years suggest it might just stay that way :-)

  • avatar
    ohsnapback

    Zeke, sounds like you got a good deal, at least relatively speaking, and I’m glad you have had good reliability.

    Isn’t the A3 basically a Rabbit chassis, though? Maybe that is the same as the GTI and Jetta, anyways, so it’s probably moot.

    As to the comments from others about the 2.0T clatter, I can personally attest to this. We (until recently) had a 2.0T Passat.

    When I was having a friend help me put some hardwood flooring in, I pulled into my drive after running up to Home Depot, and he heard the motor and asked me if it was the TDI diesel.

    I replied that it was not, and he was an ignorant fool for thinking the TDI diesel was so loud.

    The 2.0T does indeed sound like a farm tractor and burns about a quart of oil every 1000 miles (ours did, at least), which the dealership told us was within VW specifications.

    Uh huh. Sure.

  • avatar
    Brock_Landers

    Mirko:

    I have driven both the new A3 and new Octavia. In my opinion the interior quality is exactly at the same level and handling, roadfeel is very similar, Audi is only a tiny bit stiffer.

  • avatar
    rustyak

    I have an option to get an A3 TDI as a fleet vehicle for work. I make two trips across the Northern Rockies about every 2-3 weeks. Sounds like a great open road car, especially for passing all those RV’s in the warmer months. I need to know how this bad boy does in the snow. My other option is a Nissan Rogue, a compact AWD SUV with twice the clearance. Better chance of not getting stuck in the boonies, but not nearly as much fun or comfortable to drive as the A3. Thanks.


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