I have always liked Audi A3s and finally decided to go for it and buy one last March. I was initially looking at a brand new factory order but after finding out there was a 9 month lead time on factory orders, decided to look at the second hand market. I searched using the Audi website approved used vehicles facility and eventually found my ideal car at a nearby dealership.
**My Car Spec / My Background**
The car I chose was the Audi A3 3 door S Line 1.6 TDi. It is White with the black styling pack and black tinted rear windows. It has 18 inch alloys and half leather upholstery. It has a hands free bluetooth car kit and usb connection for ipods etc. When I bought the car it was just over 2 years old and had 12,000 miles on the clock.
I drive around 8000 miles per year. My main journey is to and from work which is a 10 mile journey through a town, but due to heavy traffic this takes roughly 1 hour so I spend most of it rolling along slowly.
**Buying Experience / Price**
I bought the car from the Audi garage in Stoke. I called the dealership in advance to express my interest in the car and arrange a Saturday viewing. When I arrived the sales rep took my details then wasted no time in going out for the test drive. We drove around the industrial estate and surrounding area and I was given plenty of time to decide if I liked the drive of the car, which I did. We then got to business and discussed the pricing. The car was advertised at £18,000 and I was hoping to improve this price however the sales rep made it clear that this price was none-negotiable. This was a little disappointing as I have always managed to get an improvement on prices in the past. However despite this I decided to buy the car and signed the paperwork. I then picked it up a week later where it was ready and waiting for me, and had been cleaned thoroughly.
The exterior is my favourite thing about the car and is very classic to Audi. Over the years the Audi A3 hasn't changed a great deal on the outside yet it still looks modern and sleek. There is nothing particularly flashy about the exterior or unique but it looks smart in my opinion. Before this car I owned a new style Fiesta and after owning it for 3 years had decided I wanted something a bit more grown-up and corporate, and the Audi A3 fit the bill. The white paint really suits this car and contrast of the tinted windows and the black styling kit make it stand out. The black styling kit consists of black window trims and black trim around the grill etc (as opposed to silver).
The alloys are silver shine finish and look great on the car. The 18 inch alloys come as standard on the S-Line edition and they look big against the car and stand out. The S-line edition also includes a small roof spoiler which is subtle but adds a sporty look to the car and makes it stand out from other A3's. The car also includes S-Line badges on the wings which look good and stand out against the white paint. The car includes sports suspension which is 30mm lower than standard.
The mirrors are white to match the car and have small indicator lights on to match the main indicators. They do not fold in automatically but can be pushed in manually when parking if required. Overall the car looks sporty and cool but serious and corporate at the same time which is perfect for me.
I am in the car for 2 hours a day and always feel comfortable. The seats are excellent quality and can be adjusted manually to suit which is easy to do. I am 5ft4 and feel comfortable driving the car, I can reach the pedals easily and don't need my seat on the closest setting to do so. The seats also look great, they are black with half leather and S-Line embossing on them. They look sporty and different but without sacrificing comfort. The car is spacious for a hatchback and feels very roomy in the front, like driving a saloon. I could easily imagine a larger or taller person driving this car comfortably. I have only had people in the back of the car about twice since buying it and whilst the back seats aren't huge, they have always been comfortable. The only issue is that the windows are small in the back therefore it could feel a bit claustrophobic sitting in the back for a longer journey. Personally I would go for a bigger and 5 door car if I was regularly having over 3 people in with me.
The boot is a decent size and I always fit in my weekly shop with ease. Inside the car there is a glove compartment which is actually quite small but big enough for the basics. There is a centre armrest which has a top section which I keep my sunglasses in, and also opens out to the main section which is large enough to store CDs etc. I don't keep anything in mine to be honest! My favourite thing about the armrest is the comfort it provides for your arm when driving. I tend to drive with my left hand constantly on the gear stick even when travelling at a steady speed and not changing gears, so it's nice to be able to rest my arm slightly. When you lift the armrest there are 2 cup holders which I have used a few times and are handy. Beneath the entertainment system there is a small storage area with a click close lid on top. I use this for my mobile phone whilst driving. On the dashboard there is a change compartment which you press in and it opens out. I keep a few pounds in here for emergencies/parking etc. There are also side compartments which are useful for bottles, CD's etc. So overall there is plenty of storage in this car and there is more than enough for my needs.
**Other interior features**
The S-Line model includes a leather finish steering wheel which looks great. It has all the usual features (indicators etc) but also has CD track shift button and a volume button. This is really handy and means I don't need to mess with the radio as much whilst driving. Shifting tracks and volume from the wheel is much easier but also safer and less distracting.
The radio system is called Audi Concert and includes radio with 6 pre-set options and a one disc CD player. I always listen to music/radio in the car and the speaker quality is excellent and the radio signal is always good. The CD player works well and has never damaged/overheated my CDs. I have an ipod and currently have this connected in the car via the glove box and this also works well allowing me access to all my tracks. The only thing I was disappointed in was that I couldn't change the clock settings from the radio. The clock is located with the speed clocks etc and has to be changed using a stick from there. It took me ages to change it and it certainly couldn't be done whilst driving. I preferred the fact that on my last car I could change the clock from the radio and it was much easier.
The windscreen wipers on this car are manual which I was glad about, as my last cars automatic sensor wipers had a mind of their own. You can change the speed of the intermittent wiper setting which allows more control. The lights are controlled via a dial on the right of the steering wheel. There is a daylight mode which turns the front lights on a low setting and turns off automatically when leaving the car. I used this a few times when I first got the car but now I always tend to set my lights to low beam when driving in daylight so I've got the back lights on too. The lights don't turn off automatically when departing the car but it beeps to remind you if you leave them on.
The hands free system in the car works excellently. As soon as I enter the car it detects my phone within seconds and connects, enabling me to make and receive calls. I always regretted not opting for this feature with my last car so it is great to finally have it.
My last car didn't have a spare wheel which ended in disaster when I had to get towed to a garage by the AA after my wheel split and couldn't be repaired. So I was glad to find that this car included a space saver wheel in the back. I know space savers aren't everything but I rarely go on long journeys so it may prove very useful. Because the wheels are 18inch the tyres aren't particularly cheap, which I discovered when I needed to get all 4 of mine replaced after my first MOT last week. Online the tyre price for Michellin was £180 per tyre however my local ATS had a deal on which meant I got all four tyres for £480 which was a relief!
**Performance, Reliability & Economy**
I enjoy driving the car and it handles the roads well. It is a steady drive and I feel relaxed and in control whilst driving it. It took me a while to get to that point though, to begin with I struggled driving the car and found it different to any I had driven before. I have driven Tdi engines many times and am aware that sometimes they lose power at lower speeds and require gear drops more regularly but this is quite extreme with my A3. I find if my speed reduces I have to quickly drop a gear or it literally loses power within seconds. This got me in a few awkward situations when I first owned the car and made it difficult to get used to. I even went through a phase where I thought there was something wrong with the car but was assured by various sources that this wasn't the case. After a couple of months I got used to this and now find the car easy to drive and don't need to think whilst driving it.
The car stays on track on the road and will fly round corners as you would expect from a smaller sportier car (obviously there are limits to this like with any car). Once I got used to the issue above I found that the car maintains speed well and building up speed is easy with the tdi engine. This means speed changes are easy and building up speed to overtake or enter a motorway requires little effort. I have never found it to struggle in terms of maintaining speed and can happily stay in 5th gear on the motorway regardless of the steepness. I have driven the car with other people in the back and with heavy luggage in the boot and it never feels any different and doesn't struggle at all which is great. The car is easy to control and the visibility is good considering it is a 2 door hatchback. I always feel I can see enough when reversing out of car parking spaces or other manoeuvres. The breaks on the car are very reactive, not so much so that I almost go through the windscreen when using them, but they are sensitive so I always trust that the car will stop when required.
The car feels solid and makes very little noise when driving. Some cars I've been in are constantly rattling and shaking, but this feels well made and everything is secure. Because of the low profile tyres and lowered suspension the drive isnt exactly smooth though and you do feel bumps in the road very easily and pot holes are best avoided entirely if possible. The MPG on the car is very good and after a year of driving mainly in town traffic the MPG is at 58 which is brilliant and the best fuel efficiency I have had in a car so far. It is also very cheap in terms of tax which is £20 per year.
The only occasion I have struggled in the car is in snowy weather where, like most of my other cars, it got stuck on our steep lane. We live on top of a hill in a rural area so snow is an issue and a 4x4 vehicle is required ideally. The A3 handled the snow as well as I expected from a front wheel drive and can move in shallow snow but did struggle in deeper snow or ice. The solution was a pair of snow shoes for the tyres which cost around £60 and are put on the front wheels to create more traction. These worked excellently and got me out of our lane on many occasions over the winter.
I have owned the car for one year which was covered by warranty, but I haven't ever had any breakdowns or issues with it. In general I had the idea that Audis are well built and reliable, and so far this car has proven that. I am hoping to keep the car for another 4 years so fingers crossed that it continues to be reliable!
For a hatchback vehicle the Audi A3 is expensive, particularly the upgraded and modified versions. However for me it was worth it as I really do love the car and it has made the mundane journey to and from work every day much more enjoyable! I suppose value for a car depends on the individual and your personal budget plus how important a car is to you. Audis in general are good in the sense that they do not lose value very quickly. My car would have cost around £23,000 brand new and the 2 year old version I chose with 12,000 miles was valued at £18,000 so it had hardly lost any value.
**Experience with Audi**
Although I'm happy with the car I'm not entirely happy with the service from Audi. Whilst the sales rep was efficient and things did get done he seemed quite indifferent and I felt I may have been treated differently than if I had been ordering a brand new car. A year prior to purchasing this car I had been in my local Audi branch enquiring about a factory order A3 several times and was generally very disappointed with the attitude of the staff who just didn't seem to take me seriously and thought they could mess me around (changing quoted prices around etc). Anyone would have thought I was trying to order an Audi R8 and they just seemed to think I was beneath them. At the time I was 25 years old (female) and wondered if this was why, and it did genuinely put me off ordering with them. My last car was a Ford and I received excellent, down to earth service in all areas despite being even younger at the time, so I feel Audi could learn a lot from this!
For this reason I haven't bothered having my car MOT or service at an Audi garage and instead have used a reputable local garage.
I am really happy with my Audi A3 and have no regrets in choosing this car and look forward to many more years driving it. It looks brilliant and is perfect for my lifestyle. I would say it is suitable for slow city/town driving, traffic jams and higher speed/motorway driving. So it is a great all rounder! It is well built and feels solid and reliable, therefore is worth the money.
I first posted a short opinion of my A3 1.6 sport back in 2001, when I was still in love with the car and thought that Audi dealers were great... Not any more, I am coming to the end of a personal contract on my A3, and wanted to find out what had happened in the world of A3's since Dec 1999 when I took delivery of mine. I visited my local Audi dealer (Lancaster Audi, in Liverpool) to order my new A3 and was totally horrified to find out that the contract we had taken out had left us owing just what the car is worth! We had placed quite a large deposit when we ordered the car, having been assured that when we came to the end of our contract we would simply return it and take out another contract on a new A3 without placing another deposit. The 'salesman' (and I use that term loosely) told us that since car prices had slumped since the beginning of our contract, our car was now only worth the final payment sum, thus leaving us with no deposit off our new car. Despite the car being in excellent condition, with very low mileage (and also, that we had since purchased another car from them) he was totally uninterested and said that there was no way Audi could had foreseen the price slump. On the forecourt there were several cars similar to mine at very much higher prices than what he quoted. We also noticed that all the sales people were different from when we were last there. I can only conclude that Audi have decided that existing customers mean absolutely 'zilch' to them and are happy for us to walk away , which we are going to do, having lost a large sum of money into the bargain. I would like another Audi (my husband also drives one an A6) but not from Lancaster !
It was October 2001, I was near the end of three years with a Honda Civic Vti 3dr which I had loved! The engine was amazing, revving to 8000 with that exhilerating Vtec kick at 6200! I had to change and was not impressed by the new shape Civic which I think looks like a bread-van! The R-type was liveable with on performance alone, but the emissions were way over the top! So what's out there? It had to be 1.6 or less to hit the new tax changes in April 2002, unless I went for the diesel option, which I hate! They are noisy, slow for mph/cc and I think more damaging to the atmosphere than petrol emissions. Few options were available, obviously Ford, but let's get real! Vauxhall Astra, OK apart from the Vauxhall badge on the front! Nissan, Citroen, Peugeot, Renault... the list gos on, the build quality plummets! Then Audi appeared in the magazine listing, well made, pricey but solid! We have an Audi dealership about 200 yards from our house! Spent the next saturday morning spent crawling over A2s and A3s, very impressed! After nearly plumpimg for an A2, thank God common sense prevailed and an order was placed for a 1.6, 3 door, A3 Sport. Day of delivery saw a Brilliant Blue, (Dark blue actually!) A3 come tanking into the office car park. The doors clunk, the interior light stays on until you turn the key, the seats hug, the vanity mirror lights up, your rear seat passengers have reading lights albeit without much legroom! Turn the quirky flip-out key and the panel lights up in red LCD displays for radio, heating, mileage, date and time. The interior light fades gracefully! The gear stick is like a switch, put it in first and pull away. The clutch is light, the cabin well sound insulated. Yes, you will stall this car in the first few days, until you get used to the hush! The engine doesn't pull like the Honda, far more relaxed ad so quiet in comparison Gone is the frantic row along with the gearstick approach, this car needs placing on the road
and well timed changes to get the best from the chassis, recently tweaked for the Sport and wonderful! She takes roundabouts like a Mini, the same confident feeling, without any roll or understeer. The interior i beautifully finished, so much storage and well thought through. I am still finding little touches, such as the tiny sun visor filling the gap over the rear view mirror! Vorsprung durch technik indeed!