We were the first to the drive the new petrol-powered Audi A3 1.8 TFSI and were mighty impressed by not just the strong performance on tap, but the overall package on offer. Now, we have come to Rajasthan to sample the important 141bhp 2.0-litre diesel version that’s likely to make up the lion’s share of the model's sales.
Getting behind the wheel, the interiors are the same as on the petrol version and feel like a proper Audi. The powered front seats are quite accommodating and you don’t feel tired even after spending almost a full day in them. The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels great to hold and doesn’t block your view of the technical-looking instrument cluster. The MMI screen pops up and the air-con vents are turbine-like; all these elements help create a contemporary cabin. However, the buttons are a bit too small and bunched together which makes the rest of the dash appear a bit too sparse.
However, what I am most interested in is the 141bhp 2.0-litre diesel motor in this test car. If you look at the badge, it says 35TDI instead of the expected 2.0 TDI. This is the carmaker's new ‘dynamic factor’ nomenclature which is a system they use to calculate the performance of a given model and variant. Simply put, the bigger the number, the quicker it is to 100kph. The diesel engine is mated to a six-speed S-tronic automatic gearbox but, like the petrol version, doesn’t feature paddle shifts. Compared to its rivals, the diesel sedan produces almost as much power as the 143bhp BMW 1-series diesel and a lot more than the 108bhp diesel Mercedes A-class. So, what is it like from behind the wheel?
Complementing this engine is a great ride and handling balance. The ride on this diesel sedan felt a bit firmer but that has more to do with the optional 17-inch lower profile (225/45 R17) wheels since both petrol and diesel versions have the same suspension setup. Just like its petrol sibling, the diesel A3 rides reasonably flat on long stretches of undulations, and the carmaker felt unflappable over broken sections of road. Even moderately deep potholes are dispatched without much of a fuss, and despite the lower profile rubber, really jarring thuds don't filter through into the cabin.