By on March 11, 2014

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News of Audi’s marketing efforts for the upcoming A3 has been making the rounds on the auto blogosphere for all the wrong reasons. As Automotive News reports, the 60-odd page launch guide given to dealers is supposed to be a codex for appealing to Millenial buyers with “farm-to-table” food, craft beer and Spotify playlists. Since the goodwill towards my angry-young-millennial shtick has evaporated over the past two years, I’ll say that this whole thing sounds like Audi trying to copy GM’s ham-handed youth marketing efforts. For now, let’s bring it back to the product.

The A3, as we know, is a front-drive Audi 4-door that only comes with a two-pedal transmission and is based on the same MQB platform as the Golf. And I’m really looking forward to it.

To understand why, let’s rewind to 2006. High school was a charmed epoch for me: I was utterly unaware of my own awkwardness or abrasively brash humor. I confused shock and offense for being profound and witty. My grades were not great, but good enough to get into a good journalism school. My parents urged me to work harder, get better grades and leave doors open for the future. “I don’t plan on going back to school after undergrad,” was my reply. If you think I am arrogant, combative and hard headed now, I wish you could have seen me then.

My home life was equally comfortable. My father had just turned 50, made partner at his law firm a few years earlier and was enjoying unprecedented prosperity. My mother had fully recovered from a bad stomach bug that left her bed-ridden for months. One vacation a year turned into two, and in 2003, my father traded in his 1999 Acura TL for a 2003 BMW 530i, which was among the very last to come to Canada before the Bangle-tainted E60 debuted.

The 530i was his pride and joy. Having long admired the E38 740iL, he was now in a position to afford a top-tier sports sedan and determined not to let the chance pass him by. The 530i was, in his mind, the apex sedan: an adept tourer that could be pushed hard on the odd day when he felt like it.

Sadly, I barely got to drive it. While I had my license towards the end of our time with the car, my father opted not to renew the lease. Among its candidates for replacement was a car I regarded with some contempt: the Volkswagen Jetta. The GLI was not yet released in Canada, but there was a 2.0T model that offered the GLI’s suspension, two-piece alloys as well as leather and the premium stereo system – all equipment that my father valued over the tartan cloth, boy racer bodykit and red brake calipers that would arrive a year later on the Canadian GLI.

In hindsight, the petulant whining about my father’s car is mortifying – but what would adolescence be without obnoxious entitlement and the inability to empathize. In his characteristically polite but firm way, my father informed me that the BMW could not stay, unless I wanted to shoulder the burden of paying tuition myself. We took the BMW out for one final drive, and he convinced me to come collect the car with him later on that week. It was black on tan leather, just like the 530i, and on our maiden voyage home, we went against the dealer’s strict break-in instructions and cracked the throttle. It was, without a doubt, much quicker in a straight line. The VAG 2.0T and DSG gearbox were fairly advanced stuff for 2006, and feeling the wave of torque along with the DSG’s rapid downshifts proved to be addictive.

I spent most of my real driver’s education – getting comfortable in traffic, figuring out how to pass on the highway, parallel parking – in the Jetta. My initial distaste for its front-drive, two pedal configuration and its less prestigious image (which one tends to value at age 17) faded away. The 530i was graceful and poised, while the Jetta was more like a feisty puppy, diving into corners with the crappy Michelin all-seasons howling away, spinning the inside tire upon exit in a furious fit of torque steer and then rocketing the car forward when it calmed down.  It was a great car for a young man to learn to drive quickly, without the “look-at-me” factor of the sportier MKV cars.

Eventually, the Jetta left our driveway as well – the prospect of owning that car out of warranty was enough to prompt my father to get rid of it. At that point, we had the Miata as well, and with me paying for it, he could have all the thrills of sports car ownership, without the hassles. To this day, the Jetta, not the BMW, or his Prelude VTEC or his Integra GS-R, is the one car that receives the fondest tributes.

So what does this have to do with the A3? Well, it seems a hell of a lot like the old Jetta. The enthusiast community may have derided the current Jetta as an Americanized bastard-child for Volkswagen, but they weren’t buying anyways. My father, on the other hand, was a customer that Volkswagen really did lose. It may not be the dynamic equal of the BMW 320i, or as stylish as the Mercedes-Benz CLA, but if it can deliver a comfortable, fairly powerful driving experience with dynamic competence up to 7/10ths, it will be good enough for him, and plenty of other entry-level luxury buyers. But the A3, with its nicer interior, 2.0T powertrain and compact dimensions, is the kind of car that he’s looking for – even though he’s old enough to be the parents of the buyers Audi is targeting. I wouldn’t be surprised if other older customers are attracted towards this car as they look towards downsizing. It wouldn’t be the first time that a car is targeted at younger buyers, but purchased by older consumers.

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132 Comments on “Generation Why: Arrogance And Adolescence...”


  • avatar

    What?

  • avatar
    Short Bus

    ” the Jetta was more like a feisty puppy, diving into corners with the crappy Michelin all-seasons howling away, spinning the inside tire upon exit in a furious fit of torque steer and then rocketing the car forward when it calmed down.”

    Sounds about like what I appreciate about my GTI. I upgraded to summer sport tires, but it has that same “feisty puppy” enthusiasm about it that makes it incredibly fun.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    A3: *The* car for beta males with a little extra to spend.

    • 0 avatar
      MPAVictoria

      “beta males”

      Really?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Indeed, this has been my observations on Jetta/Golf thus far. I imagine Canada is a whole different story.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          I wouldn’t mind a new Jetta, you get decent modest styling, 10 more hp than its Golf sister (20hp less than Audis with the same engine), and its at least a few grand cheaper than the GTi, easily much cheaper than VW sporty Beetle (Peoples car my foot).

          Only thing is, I’d never grow to like the Jetta over time with VW/Audi simply copying 1980′s Chryslers idea of “One car, many flavors”. With modern cars its not like it’ll make parts cheaper for the consumer or anything. Plus I doubt I could get the options that I want:

          Dark blue paint

          230hp Audi engine

          Audi A3 interior

          VW Jetta base exterior and steel wheels

          Touchscreen delete

    • 0 avatar
      Short Bus

      What does that even mean?

      • 0 avatar
        Tomifobia

        You know: “metrosexuals.”

        Wink wink, nudge nudge.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        @Short Bus

        Beta male

        An unremarkable, careful man who avoids risk and confrontation. Beta males lack the physical presence, charisma and confidence of the Alpha male.

        “Pete knew he was losing the girl he’d just met at the bar to the guy who bought her a drink, but he was too much of a beta male to do anything about it.”

        http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=beta+male

        @Tomifobia

        Not necessarily, but YMMV.

        • 0 avatar
          Short Bus

          Uh, okay. I have no idea how you could possibly draw those conclusions based on a car purchase, but given your reference of urbandictionary.com you’re clearly operating on another level than I am.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            One can draw conclusions based on an automotive purchase. Whether those are correct or not is another story.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Beta Male anthem: “I Will Wait” by Mumford and Sons.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Avoiding confrontation is the hallmark of an adult. Seeking out risk for the sole purpose of proving your bravado is the hallmark of an idiot. In my experience, guys who buy into, or even worse, IDENTIFY with the whole “alpha male” thing are really insecure and overcompensating for something. Be who you are, don’t take shit from anybody but don’t be an asshole either.

      • 0 avatar

        > What does that even mean?

        It means alpha males buy a Hummer…

        Srsly, not the first time I’ve seen some alpha-in-his-mind get down from one of those with a rope ladder.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’d say the previous gen Jetta is a wannabe car for twenty-somethings. Plenty of women drive these too, so it’s not really a beta-male ride (nice troll, though, 28…). The common threads between Jetta drivers here in Denver seem to be excessive use of smartphones and Starbucks, tailgating, and willingness to radically overpay for a German car that’s usually not even made in Germany.

      What it is now, I don’t really know. I don’t think VW does either…they’re all beta males, after all.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      If older A4s are anything to go by, the A3 will be plenty popular with guys who’d refer to themselves as Alphas. Well, at least they will be in 5-10 years, after it’s been through an owner or two.

      By the way, what you bench, bro?

    • 0 avatar
      The Heisenberg Cartel

      Do you have to post this identical comment on almost every VW article? What are you, some Return of Kings-reading “pick up artist”?

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      So it should do quite well in Canada!

      ;)

  • avatar
    AlfaRomasochist

    I know that feel, bro. A few years ago I had a Mazda Protege ES, with the 2L engine and a 5 speed. After lunching it in a frozen rainstorm I bought the car I had lusted after for years – a very well kept E36 M3 5-speed sedan in Estoril Blue. Drool.

    The M3 was objectively a far better car in every way that matters.

    The little Protege was more fun.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    The trouble is that the A3 fundamentally IS that MKV Jetta, but at a much higher price. I liked the A3 hatch a lot, but I would never buy one over a Golf – what would be the point?

    • 0 avatar
      klossfam

      Agree in general > although an A3 hatch with the TDI engine and Quattro would be the most desirable to me…Something not available as a combo from VW either in N America…Not sure why the hatch theme is out for the moment – at least with the A3 — and even the Subie WRX. Hatches are/were making a comeback. My kids have a 2006 VW Rabbit/Golf and a 2011 GTI and NEITHER would ever consider a sedan again…Neither would I at my age and needs…Of course, I’m running around in a 2010 Ridgeline as my daily driver, so my views on ‘utility’ are obvious.

    • 0 avatar
      fredtal

      To be exact the A3 (at least my 2007) is mechanically related to the GTI. They do drive differently and they of course look different. Of course you still have to decide if the differences are worth the money or not.

    • 0 avatar
      rdchappell

      The next A3 being referenced in the article has nothing to do with the MKV(or MKVI) Jetta. It’s on the new MQB architecture shared with the MKVII Golf and presumably the MKVII Jetta whenever that comes out.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Yes, it’s on a different platform. But down in its soul it is the old “nice” Jetta. The current Jetta is a relatively crap meant just for Americans who refuse to pay real money for a nicer car. The A3 IS the nice Jetta of old.

  • avatar
    wumpus

    It has been said here a number of times, you can always sell an old man a young man’s car. 60 pages might be pushing it, but if it helps making an honest effort to sell a young man’s car, it is worth it.

  • avatar

    Thanks to the recent VW efforts in America, everyone knows that you do not own those outside of the warranty. So the question is if enough people will lease those A3s.

    If I wanted a car like that, I’d look at one of those BMW Tourer thingies. Or maybe just got a Mazda 3 and used the saved money elsewhere.

    • 0 avatar
      rdchappell

      That depends on your definition of “recent”.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      I had 2 Audis back-to-back – a ’96 A4 that had about 120,000 miles on the clock when I sold it in ’03, followed by an ’03 A4 Avant that we put about 160,000 miles on before the transmission went in late 2012.

      My experience with both cars was similar – after 5-6 years, a number of repairs to peripherals, but the mechanicals were rock solid (the second car’s transmission aside).

      The lesson I learned was that you only keep an Audi for 8 years or so.

      The new A3 sedan is almost exactly the size of my first A4. If history repeats, it will be a terrific car.

  • avatar
    MPAVictoria

    “It wouldn’t be the first time that a car is targeted at younger buyers, but purchased by older consumers.”

    The real reason for this is that very few young buyers can afford a 45,000 dollar compact car. I make a decent living but there is no way I could swing that and still be able to save for a house and retirement.

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      someone forgot to tell me to get rid of my VW TDI wagon as it is out of warranty. it is a little over 2 years old with 81,000 on it, should I chance driving it to the dealer to trade in or would you recommend i take the safe route and have it towed there? This VW is crap stuff is really out dated, are they Camcord steady no but they are not the rolling piles of sh** that they seem to be regarded.

      • 0 avatar
        klossfam

        I totally agree – I’ve owned a 2006 A4 3.2 Quattro, and the family still has a 2006 VW Rabbit, 2011 Tiguan SEL and 2011 GTI and they are NO less reliable than our 2008 Toyota Highlander (bad water pump at 49k)…or all the other Hondas/Acuras I’ve owned all since 2001
        (since 2001 – 5 Honda/Acuras, 1 Audi, 1 Infiniti, 3 VWs). Some jackass will get on here and say I don’t have a representative sample or something but I call BS on the basement dwelling trolls that live in the blogosphere. Some high school kid that remembers his friends Mark III Jetta had issues doesn’t count as an expert on vehicle reliablility…

        • 0 avatar
          Nick_515

          klossfam my 2005.5 A4 3.2 Quattro KICKS ASS at 91k miles and has been nothing but a glee-inducing machine from the day I bought it from its first owner 25k miles ago. No mechanic fails to compliment its condition. Change the oil every 5k to be safe, do the recommended services, skip the bullship “brake fluid change” and smoke some traffic when I feel like it.

          • 0 avatar
            klossfam

            I miss my 2006 A4 with the 3.2 and a 6 speed MT…it had the true S-line suspension (the factory option) with 30% stiffer springs and lowered 0.8 inch. Was great for handling but a little rough on the kidneys. Still, never had a problem although admittedly I only owed to 35,000 miles. I was then forced to a 2008 Infiniti G35xS because the better half demanded an A/T and a smoother ride. BUT to my original point: the G35 blew a head gasket at 48k miles and was out of service 3 weeks+ due to an incompetent Infiniti service department. So problems of a more MAJOR nature were suffered by many of my Japanese vehicles.

          • 0 avatar
            Nick_515

            klossfam, sorry to hear about the Infinity. I know what you mean… mine is not an S-Line but it has the sport package with the stiffer suspension and three-spoke steering wheel. it’s an automatic unfortunately. I know all the criticisms of this car – yes the car is kinda porky, and my suspension is too crashy in everyday duty. But it’s a lot of fun, it sounds terrific, it’s a beautiful car (i have silver exterior platinum interior) AND more to the point, it has been reliable. I am at 91k. [Will report here somewhere if it starts falling apart].

      • 0 avatar
        CrapBox

        Yeah, I’ve purchased a new VW Rabbit in October 2006. In the course of eight years and 200,000 km, nothing much has gone wrong with the car. I, on the other hand, have fallen apart in typical beta male fashion.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “few young buyers can afford a 45,000 dollar compact car”

      I just priced it out with auto, cold weather package and convience package it’s out the door price is $31,401.

      • 0 avatar
        johnny ro

        Me too.

        Is like paying 28k for a loaded Mazda 6 instead of 18k.

        I would go for the 2.0 over the 1.8, since it is so little more money for more car stuff. And pay low 30s.

        Waiting for it to arrive at my favorite dealer.

        Want to add, its worth probably $5k to deal with Audi dealer instead of VW dealer, near Boston.

      • 0 avatar
        N8iveVA

        Although for some strange reason you wont get individual map lights, automatic dimming interior mirror, or automatic climate control without buying another pricey package.But many wont care about those.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I suspect that the next A3 will have the same issues in the US as did the last one (and, for that matter, the BMW 1-series): it looks like a car that wishes that it was larger, but isn’t.

    The Napoleon complex on wheels approach doesn’t work. For something in that size class to succeed, it has to be well proportioned, otherwise it screams out as being a compromise.

    Mercedes did the smart thing with the CLA by dropping a fairly large body onto a compact platform. At least it looks the part.

    • 0 avatar
      TomHend

      Pcho101 your back! now please, we all know you are very emotional and unaccomplished- a real underachiever, what else can explain your name calling, I am sure it has been all down hill for you since high school, but let’s keep the anger in check tonight when you don’t agree with somebody- OK? See if you can let go of that tight grip on your political ideology that really has not served you to well-what do you say? Deal?

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      I’m not personally familiar with the A3, but I am with the 1-series. The problem, in my view, is that the 1-series does not just have a “cramped” back seat; it has a back seat that is impossible for an adult male of average (let’s say 5’10″) height to sit in, facing forward. Same for all but the latest version of the Mini Cooper (which, I believe has been enlarged enough to have a marginal back seat for grown adults).

      Unless you’re carrying small children or dogs, why not just get a 2-seater and be done with it?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The outgoing A3 has rear doors, and is essentially a Jetta wagon.

        The outgoing 1-series is just slightly larger than the old E21 3-series. At the time, the E21 seemed to be large enough, yet the 1-series stands out as being quite small.

        Essentially, everything has moved up in size class, including the relationship between size and status. In the US, the Audi and BMW send the message of being downmarket, while the CLA cleverly avoids that stigma by adding sheetmetal. Daimler made the right call; the goal should be to find ways to rework smaller platforms, not to make smaller cars.

        • 0 avatar

          >In the US, the Audi and BMW send the message of being downmarket, while the CLA cleverly avoids that stigma by adding sheetmetal. Daimler made the right call; the goal should be to find ways to rework smaller platforms, not to make smaller cars.

          What’s interesting is that one of VW’s highlights for the MQB is its extensible hard points relative to the firewall, and a more modular “architecture” in contrast to mere platform. Yet the A3 still looks like a Jetta.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Because a small back seat is a lot more useful than NO back seat. I had two 6′+ and two 5’9 guys in my Abarth the other night. Tight, but good enough to go 4 miles to a restaurant. Three 6′+ guys can fit in it, the guy in back just has to sit sideways. The back of a 1-series is no worse.

        Anyone who does not like the aft accommodations can arrange their own transportation – I’m not running a limo service. People are so whiny and spoiled these days.

      • 0 avatar
        Vega

        That’s where the Audi being transverse FWD will be an advantage, transverse engine cars usually have bigger interiors relative to the overall size.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      My opinion is the inverse of what you’ve just said. I feel that the CLA looks like a wannabe-CLS, while the A3 makes its small size work for it. And inside, it’s probably no less accommodating than the A4.

      • 0 avatar

        > I feel that the CLA looks like a wannabe-CLS, while the A3 makes its small size work for it.

        The problem is that small (esp former hatch) has the stigma of “cheap” in the US, and the A3 isn’t really a niche car but rather the entry point to the lineup, so niche appeal can’t save it.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The CLA has been a lot more successful in the US than the 1-series. The CLA outsold the 1-series last year by about 2:1, even though the CLA wasn’t available until later in the year.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I think it will be more interesting to see how the CLA does in comparison to the 2-series. I like the 1-series, but even I will admit that it fell out of the ugly tree… A great drive, but thankfully you can’t see it while driving it. The CLA looks great!

          • 0 avatar

            > I like the 1-series, but even I will admit that it fell out of the ugly tree

            The problem with the 1-series was that the bmw bangle look (wide-eyed/accentuated sills) made squat proportions seem even more squat. The 1-hatch alleviates it somewhat by allowing some more visual length.

            The new 1 (ie 2) has the sleek style which fits the car even though it’s basically same size:

            http://image.motortrend.com/f/wot/refreshing-or-revolting-2014-bmw-2-series-coupe-419933/55969820/2014-BMW-M235i-135i-side-view.jpg

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    As someone who’s way, way along in years, I can tell you categorically that, for me at least, conflating seniority with Buick-Avalon-Camryville, etc. is sadly mistaken. My last two cars were Audis that I drove quite aggressively, and same goes now for my 2012 Golf TDI. I did think for a moment about the new A3, but I have a problem with the image. So, a new Golf TDi or GTD or GTI is just around the corner.

  • avatar
    sproc

    Proud beta male at heart (this is grossly mis-defined above), and I love my wife’s ’08 A3. It’s really a just right size for a family of two, practical and still plenty fun to drive.

    I think the new one looks great and I can’t wait to test drive it. I may even suck it up and give the e-tron version a try, if only to get the 5-door.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      How would you define it?

      • 0 avatar
        Short Bus

        Why does it even need a definition? Why are people so vain that they have to create ways to imagine being superior to others?

        • 0 avatar

          > Why does it even need a definition? Why are people so vain that they have to create ways to imagine being superior to others?

          It’s the american way: project who you want to be by buying it.

          This alpha male bidness is the most hilarous shiit; a proud celebration of simpleton culture. Those with some substance point and laugh at the stupid? Just make being stupid your thing!

      • 0 avatar
        sproc

        Must… not… can’t believe I’m taking the bait…

        I define it as someone who listens a lot and only talks when he’s got something to say. Someone who is fine not being the life of the party. Someone who only has a few, high quality friends.

        How does that influence my car personality? I like small, quick, practical cars that I like driving and looking at but don’t always draw a lot of attention and aren’t a bitch to park. I spend enough of my life at sea wrapped in thousands of tons of steel and have no desire to replicate the experience in my driveway. I will never own a truck unless I truly lose my mind and buy a boat, most likely one with sails.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    Enough with the amature psychology, let’s talk about marketing. What’s an old hippy dude like myself to think who want’s to trade his current A3 in? I mean I like bacon wrapped munchies and St Arnold as much as anyone and I’m looking forward to driving the new A3, but this little party just seems silly.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Honestly, my VW love died a hard death after I owned a ’81 Rabbit, and my Audi love died with my dad’s ’85 5000 wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      arun

      ’81 Rabbit? You know that was more than 30 yrs ago, right?

      • 0 avatar
        LeeK

        There’s something about Volkswagens that seems to infuriate some members of the B&B, and that hate stays with them a long, long tme. This ’81 Rabbit isn’t as old as the ’77 Rabbit that another poster claimed to put them off VWs forever.

        I dunno, I’ve had five VWs over the past thirty years and only one recent one (a ’08 R32) has ever been even remotely trouble-prone or extraordinarily expensive to maintain. That dishonor goes to a couple of Fords that I owned, but not enough to make me hold contempt for the brand.

        • 0 avatar
          DC Bruce

          Guilty as charged, with respect to Audis, not VWs (which I’ve never owned other than a Karmann Ghia in 1972 that was perfectly fine).

          The list of things that failed in my 1980 Audi 5000 diesel was so long and so unusual (heater core? steering rack?) that it has been etched into my memory.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Yeah, I hear ya brother. 86 Excel killed Hyundai for me. Complete piece of sh!t and I don’t suspect much has changed.

      Right?

      Anyway, if you need an example to be afraid of VW, you only have to look to 2001, not 1981. Even that doesn’t entirely hold up as the 2005+ have been pulling decent comparative reliability ratings in an industry that is advancing as a whole blah blah blah, I’ve typed it before and you’re as sick of hearing it as I am of typing it.

      • 0 avatar
        johnny ro

        I remember reading a review of a new Chevy, maybe 15 years ago, and the customer quotes included (this must have been Autoweek), “Very pleased. Nothing major has broken in over seven thousand miles of driving. We are very pleased”.

        We laughed over that, how Chevy knows its customer.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I think everyone has a soft spot for the first car they had or a great car of their parents that they got to drive. I still swear that the Datsun 240Z was the pinnacle of motoring probably for much the same reason that Derek has a soft spot for the Jetta or the Audi version of it.

    Audi has a chance to make some sales here but the way they option the car is puzzling and by the time you have most things that owners want in this category (leather, nav and a decent stereo) the price is over $40K which is a difficult watermark when a RWD ATS 2.0T Luxury with all these options sells for $37K and change or you could have a loaded RWD BMW 228 coupe for the same kind of money.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    The whole A3/1-Series/CLA/C-Class segment are like shopping at an outlet mall. Sure, you get a shirt with a Polo Horse on it, but is it really the same as the much nicer line at Bloomingdale’s? No.

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      +1

      It’s all about the logo, baby. The A3, 1 Series, CLA are just cashing in on that desire.

      Buying “upscale” goods at outlet mall prices doesn’t fool the people who can afford the real thing. But don’t tell that to the consumers, or the whole house of cards will come tumbling down. I bought my wife a bonafide Jimmy Choo purse several years ago, and the moment we walked into a Jimmy Choo store to see about getting the lining repaired, the clerk knew it was real, and accepted my wife into the exclusive club. It doesn’t look expensive (although it sure feels like it is); it’s actually somewhat nondescript, but it’s real. It’s the same reason we pulled the trigger on the E92; we could finally afford it (paid cash), and it’s measurably better than the 1 series version.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Waingrow

        The Truth About Purses. Great idea for a new site, though I think I’ll have to pass (Alpha male that I am).

        • 0 avatar

          > The Truth About Purses. Great idea for a new site, though I think I’ll have to pass (Alpha male that I am).

          We got something for everyone:

          http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/lamborghini-watches-a-brand-too-far-now-on-clearance/

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        “The whole A3/1-Series/CLA/C-Class segment are like shopping at an outlet mall. Sure, you get a shirt with a Polo Horse on it, but is it really the same as the much nicer line at Bloomingdale’s? No?”

        I understand why some value the 1 series. It’s the same size as the 3 series was at its pinnacle, and when equipped with a manual and the right motor, may actually be THE LAST true BMW that pays honest homage to the badge & raison d’être as to what once made BMW the first and best maker of “the sports sedan.”

        The A3; it’s an overpriced Jetta. Let’s be real.

        The CLA? I have scorn I contempt for it. It’s a cynical product, period. An Accord of any trim level is a superior way in every possible way at 60% of the price.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          “The A3; it’s an overpriced Jetta. Let’s be real.”
          Like a Lexus is an overpriced Toyota. Yet the driving dynamics and cache are different enough that many people are willing to pay the premium….

      • 0 avatar
        afflo

        The people who CAN afford upscale are usually emphasizing modesty. Displaying your wealth through conspicuous consumption comes off as vulgar and low-class. Upscale appeals to those who want to LOOK like they can afford it.

        Class, by Paul Fussell is a fascinating look into the class system that we either pretend does not exist, or claim is based solely on money.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      I respectfully disagree. I appreciate the superior handling that can be built into a smaller, lighter vehicle, but want it to be very well appointed. The A4/3 series/C-class deliver on this. So do the A3 and B-class. Fun to drive, but not parsimonious.

      I have no interest in the A6/5 series/E-Class and their larger brethren.

      I also have no interest in driving an econobox, just because it’s not obese.

      Which more or less leaves with the A3-A4/3 series and B- C-Class as options.

      Having said that, my first car was a Sprite. At the time, I really wanted an Elan, but couldn’t afford it. In many ways (come to think of it), I still want it. Plus ca change….

  • avatar

    Know what I love about A5 Jettas?

    Their easy retailability to young women.

    Know what I hate about A5 Jettas?

    Everything.

    Know what VW hated about A5 Jettas?

    Assembling one. Its obviously in the build quality.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    It’s quite interesting to see this topic after a recent alumni get together in Atlanta.

    About a dozen of us were surrounded at the event by what must have been 100+ Millenials and Gen-Y grads.

    The big three topics?

    1) Jobs
    2) Real Estate
    3) The Usual Social Gossip

    I did not hear so much of a whisper about cars. At the half dozen or so weddings and social gatherings with a younger audience… same exact deal.

    My wife’s three youngest siblings are 30, 28 and 26. They all own their properties and not a single one of them has been in the market for a new car. Their friends are much the same way. Most of them would rather have a family hand-me-down or a pre-owned vehicle than something new that requires even more debt.

    I think this makes perfect economic sense, much to the detriment of Audi and other prestige brands. The beauty of having a property when you’re young and single is that you can always get two or three roommates to help pay the bills. With a car? Not so much.

    It’s anyone’s guess as to whether a car that will equate to two to three weeks of sales will get an older or younger audience. With the average of a new car buyer in the 60′ish range, I’m inclined to think that Derek’s prognostication will prove to be accurate.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      Steven

      While having an older car may be a significant factor in getting debt free, including mortgage, in many parts of the country, it isn’t so in others. My son and DIL live in a nice 100 year old two family in a very nice suburb near Boston – 2BR, 1 BA each floor/apt. It is valued at 4x to 5x as much as it would be many perfectly nice mid-continent suburbs and cities. I wouldn’t be surprised if they moved to TX or FL; both have jobs of the type widely available.
      Actual numbers – new Audi A4- $40K vs 100 year old two family – $500K
      How many Audi equivalents does a similar house in your neck of the woods cost?

  • avatar
    ajla

    I guess there might be a case of “you can’t go home again” going on here, but after reading this I don’t get why you wouldn’t just buy an ’06 Jetta 2.0T.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even know how I feel about badge engineering. Give me more sound deadening and I’m happy. I want that simultaneously quiet on the inside car that still has a nice exhaust/engine note if I crack a window. Make it fast enough for me which in a sedan is roughly 200 to 300 hp, offer a manual and I’ll hunt one down to test drive to try to put my enthusiast money where my mouth is.

    But then maybe I don’t understand this article because in 2006 I was a year into my first mortgage, considering starting my master’s degree (finished in 2010 thank you), and was already 6 years into my career.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    If the CLA & A-Class are any indication, this A3 sedan will sell. The Benzes are selling like hotcakes, and after seeing their prices I can see why. They also look hot, what’s not to like.

    The demographics you’re pointing are spot on.

  • avatar
    GST

    Derek-Older driver, that would be me, am probably older than your father. Love driving responsibe cars. Bought a 320i in Nov and have 7000 miles on it including a road trip from Seattle to Las Vegas (via fantastic Eastern Oregon), Palm Springs, San Francisco, Seatte. While I do like the driving dynamics on curvy roads, I feel it is pretty ordinary on the freeways.

    I have wanted a Jetta for a long time. Daughter and son in law have a Sportwagon (great driver) and a 2003 or so Wolfsburg Jetta, both with lots of trouble free miles. Wife has a nice Audi Q5 with 60000 trouble free miles. I have a second car a 2001 Audi TT Roadster with 150000 trouble free miles (still has original clutch). I am finding that the 2001 TT has much better paint and a better interior than the 2014 BMW 320i! So will be consider gettinging the A3 instead of the 320i. Maybe my friends will talk to me again.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Regular Car Reviews has a review of a ’98 Jetta that covers both borderline irrational VW hate and the Jetta’s association with a first car: https: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KZb545b4MU

  • avatar
    The Heisenberg Cartel

    Anyone see the insane Audi engine concept from Geneva? I’m calling it now: in three or four years, Audi RS3 with the same 420-horsepower 2.0T in it. If that happens, Audi will own an entire segment made out of former WRX/STi kids who grew up and made more money

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Why no stick? It is the entry level Audi model sold in the states after all. The current Jetta/Golf based A3 hatch is offered with a stick. Heck even it’s competitor Buick Verano offers a 6 speed.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      True, the Verano comes in a manual, but what’s the take rate on them versus automatic? Audi understands that offering a manual will result in minimal additional sales…sad, but true. I really want to like the little A3, as I grew up on a steady diet of small German sedans. I’m a minority though in that I also would really prefer a manual. If I was looking “entry level” German, it’d be the 2-series as you can still row the gears yourself. That being said, wifey saw an ad for the new A3 the other day and took notice of it. Not. Good.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        That’s true of all their other cars where they offer a manual though. isn’t the 2.0T the same engine offered with a manual in the 2015 GTI? How expensive would it be to offer that in the A3?

        I like the 2 series, but RWD/MT has to be pretty important to you to choose it over the A3. For one, the A3 appears to be much cheaper. I’m sure it helps being mechanically similar to models that sell in higher volume, but I don’t know if you can hold that against it.

        Playing with the online configurators, I would be pretty happy with an A3 equipped at an MSRP of $33k. With the 228i, the price shoots up so fast my head spins, and at almost $39k, it still doesn’t match the A3′s equipment list (still missing moonroof and xenons for those that care).

        The 228i has an attractive starting price, but in practice, I don’t think it’s meant to compete with the CLA and A3 for “entry-level” sales.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          I don’t mind that the manual is a no go, since the DSG is pretty good. I looked up the Audi inventory in our area. Out of 321 Audis, 16 were manual trans, and most of those were S models. There were three A5s and two A4s. For all practical purposes, Audi has given up on the three pedal setup on their mainline cars. The same is true of BMW.

  • avatar

    Very nice Jetta! The fact that I am a huge VW fan. I have owned a few VW’s now and it does not seem that the trend will change anytime soon. Thank you for posting this interesting post. I truly appreciate these thoughts. :)

  • avatar
    redav

    Are you really sure that “marketing to millenials” is actually marketing to millenials? How do you know that they aren’t actually targeting older people (who have money) who want to feel younger? Perhaps their attempts to woo younger buyers fail not because they actually fail, but because that’s not their actual purpose?

  • avatar
    caltemus

    Being a “Millenial” and having recently gone in a short ride in the 2015 A3, I feel qualified to comment. The car is nice, but not appreciably nicer than the current gen Jetta or Passat. The model I was in was a mid range prestige with AWD, and there were still WAY too many switch blanks reminding you of what you don’t have. Overall it was very reminiscent of the more plebeian VW’s, the most noticeably in the auto door lock buttons. They looked identical to the ones found in the Passat. For 36 large it’s not the car I’d buy.

    • 0 avatar
      fredtal

      What would you buy?

      • 0 avatar
        caltemus

        I’d buy a 2015 STI. I haven’t seen it first hand but I have a feeling that I’ll like the interior more. In my experience I like the ergonomics of subarus more, and it’s way faster.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      That’s depressing to hear given the current Jetta and Passat’s reputation for decontented interiors.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        The Passat interior is just fine, the only reason it has a cheap reputation is the decontented S trim and it being within the blast radius of critical Jetta reviews. Sit in the well-respected Golf and then a Passat SE and you’ll see identical dashboard materials, window & lock switches, grained hard plastics, etc. It’s the same interior, just stretched across a bigger piece of real estate and with a janky analog clock stuck in the middle.

        Wouldn’t pay A3 money for it, though, so the larger point stands.

      • 0 avatar
        caltemus

        This reputation comes from jaded auto-journos, both the current Jetta and Passat have interiors that are up to current par. So what if the dashboard isn’t “soft”, I don’t ever touch it.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          Materials are always described as hard or soft touch, but I don’t think that’s really the point. The soft touch dashes almost always look better.

          While nobody is fondling their dash, you are likely to make contact with the door cards. I don’t know about the Passat, but they are supposed to be horrific in the Jetta.

        • 0 avatar
          adamsd

          It is not just them being jaded – my sister has had different generation of Jettas now for over 10 years – the newest generation to me feels vastly cheaper feeling than previous ones. It doesn’t have the refined upscale german feel that the previous ones embodied quite well overall.

    • 0 avatar
      FractureCritical

      I’ve seen the A3 with the exception of the AWD, you could view the base model as either really loaded Focus with with the same features and power level for 200% of the Ford price, or, if you must have the AWD, you could look at it as a Golf R with less room and less powertrain options for 125% of the price.

      If you must be snooty, you could look at it as 85% of an A4 at 95% of the A4 price.

      In any event, it’s no bargain at any price.I don’t get the point of the car at all. It’s really a moron’s car, or a car for markets (like china) where you get taxed on displacement and footprint. It has no future here.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I think someone at Audi might be drunk or high (or perhaps both). A base A3 sedan is $29900 with the 1.8 TFSI engine (aka EA888, which is now in the Jetta SE sedan). The cold weather package is $500 (standard in the Jetta SE with connectivity) and anything besides black or red paint is $550 extra. So you can spend a minimum of $30400 for an Audi A3 or you could spend about $22000 for the same thing in a Jetta. I’m sure some people will buy A3s but it seems kind of pointless for them to offer it.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    I shopped an A3 and a GTI when I was buying my first new car at 24 years old. The GTI won out based on better looks, more interesting interior (plaid!), and just all around being a more fun, less stodgy vehicle. Now, at 31, I’d make the same choice but the A3 wouldn’t even make the consideration list. While the MKVII looks good enough on paper (less weight, LSD, more power) to almost forget my dreadful MKV experience , this A3 has downright dull looks, snooty badge, no stick, no hatch/wagon. No thanks. The pics in the recent Autoblog review really just drove the point home that this is a drab vehicle. If I’m forced into a sedan, I’d take a new ’15 WRX every day of the week or even the Jetta GLI.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I’m considerably older than Audi’s target demographic, and yea, this was a car I considered when I was recently shopping. If it had been exactly what I thought I would want I would have waited, but didn’t primarily for one reason: the value proposition. Sorry, that’s just too much money for what you get, and some of what you get isn’t really up to the price. Single piston front brakes on a 30,000 + sporty sedan? Really, Audi?

  • avatar
    05lgt

    “targeting younger buyers” is fluff. You don’t sell cars to older buyers by targeting them, any more than you sell clothes, makeup, or shoes to fat and or ugly people by targeting them. You “target” your marketing to whoever it takes to get your “customers” to buy.


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