I was going to say exactly that, but it seemed unfair to do so. The A3 is such a good car that I can’t not harp on about its magnificence. Besides, the additional doors mean it now faces a challenger in the shape of the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class, as well as tough competition from within its own extended family.
So the question is whether you should buy the Audi or save a little and get the Golf 7. I’m going to eliminate the A-Class from this company immediately for one very good reason: it’s a good car that deserves its current sales success, but in the company of these two it felt a bit… mediocre.
The Golf 1.4 TSI Trendline retails for around R275 000, while its A3 1.4 TSI sibling retails for R8 000 more. Apart from obvious design and subtle suspension-setup differences the average man probably won’t notice, they are one and the same. The Audi is probably R8 000 more simply because it’s an Audi and its badge will impress the neighbours more than the VW badge stuck to the front of the Golf.
Styling-wise, it’s more of the same. Both are equally inoffensive and both will age extremely well. On the inside though, it’s a different matter.
As both these cars are from the same parent company, they share a few key attributes such as attention to detail and a quality feel. It’s certainly not a case of the Audi feeling more premium than the Golf, because that simply isn’t true. The big difference between the two is the concept around which the interior was designed. Volkswagen has gone for a traditional approach where everything is exactly where you’d expect to find it. The A3, on the other hand, is minimalist. There’s nothing more than is absolutely necessary and I love it. It makes for a harmonious environment that goes exceptionally well with the refined ride quality evident in both cars.
The quoted performance figures are also exactly the same. The 1.4 TSI unit delivers 90kW and 200Nm of torque, which is enough to haul it to 100km/h in 9.3 seconds. Claimed fuel consumption is quoted as 5.2 litres/100km. Even the Co2 emissions figure is 120g/km on both websites, so it’s quite clear that neither party is embarrassed to be so closely affiliated to the other.
I’d be proud too, because at the moment there’s nothing that can touch these two cars. The Golf’s brilliance is perhaps better known to the general populace, but the A3 Sportback definitely deserves equal amounts of praise. It doesn’t matter which one you choose, as you’ll be getting a class-leading car either way.
In this instance, it really does boil down to brand preference, because there’s nothing else to go on. My money would be spent on the Audi, simply because I like the minimalist interior that looks like a content robot’s face. Call me stupid, but that’s the best reason I can come up with.