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Launched in India in 2014, the Audi A3 is the entry point into the German carmaker's lineup for customers looking to graduate to the luxury car segment.
With the aggressive new Mercedes CLA sedan breathing down its neck, Audi decided to refresh the A3. The facelifted Audi A3 has undergone a few design changes, grabbed more kit on the inside and sports a brand new engine.
Aesthetically, the new A3 sports a few minor design tweaks which differentiate it from the car it replaces.
The biggest change is the large contoured single frame 'diamond' grille, which is flanked by bi-Xenon headlamps with jagged LED DRLs on either side. Full LED headlamps are available as an option.
Connecting the headlights to the taillights is a shoulder line that runs along the sides of the new car and emphasises the bulging wheel arches up front. Also new are the chromed out window frames.
At the rear, the roof gently curves in the boot of the Audi A3 facelift which features a small spoiler element as well.
The taillights are sharper than ever, and the optional LED package makes the A3 look flatter and wider by concentrating the light towards the outer edge of the car.
Also added on are the dynamic turn signals that flash outward in the direction you are turning.
The interiors of the Audi A3 look clean and well put together and sport leather upholstery which is available in Black as a well as a dual-tone beige/black option.
The sporty three-spoked steering wheel is wrapped in leather and features controls for the audio, navigation, and the instrument panel.
The facelifted Audi A3's seats are comfortable, and the chairs up front offer multiples levels of adjustment and loads of leg room. The rear seats though are a tight fit for three people, and headroom will be an issue for taller people.
Other features include a 7-inch MMI colour infotainment display that is controlled using either the controls on the steering wheel or the dial near the armrest. The infotainment system connects to a 10-speaker audio system.
Other features include a sunroof, a wireless phone charging pad in the front armrest, rear view camera along with proximity sensors at the both the front and the back, and seven airbags.
The facelifted Audi A3 is available with two engine options; the 2.0-litre diesel carried over from the old A3 which kicks out 141bhp and 320Nm of torque which is paired with a 6-speed automatic gearbox and returns a mileage of 20.38km/l.
The new petrol powerplant is a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine (the one we drove) which also powers the new A4. The 1.4-litre produces 148bhp and 250Nm of torque.
The Audi A3 sprints from 0-100km/h in a respectable 8.2 seconds and keeps on accelerating till it tops out at 224km/h.
The new engine is down on power compared to old one but comes equipped with cylinder-on-demand technology. The new tech allows the engine to use two cylinders at lower revs resulting in better fuel efficiency.
The A3's new engine comes paired with a 7-speed automatic gearbox, and Audi claims the turbocharged powerplant will return a mileage of 19.20km/l (up from 16.6km/l with old 1.8-litre engine).
The power delivery from the new 1.4-litre engine is linear, and the gearshifts are silky smooth. Fans of the old engine though will miss the mid-range grunt of the 1.8.
Thankfully, the slight growl of the engine note keeps you entertained and along with sharp initial response makes you want to overtake anything you see ahead of you even while cruising on the highway.
The new petrol engine of the Audi A3 is a sign of changing times, but that is something most people behind the wheel will ignore thanks to the increased fuel savings.
As an overall package, the 2017 Audi A3 is a brilliant car for those looking to upgrade to luxury segment and should easily give the Mercedes CLA a run for its money on Indian roads.
(Test drive by Jobo Kuruvilla; Editing by Dennis James)