Applauding Audi

published: Sat, 1-Sep-2007   |   updated: Fri, 5-Aug-2016

Friday was the first service of my Audi A3, at 5000 miles. A smidgeon under 5 months, so it's a good time to talk about my impressions of the car.

To quote Polonius, brevity is the soul of wit, so I shall be brief: it's bloody marvelous. I haven't so enjoyed a car in a long time. My previous one was an Acura RSX Type S, a sporty enough vehicle with verve aplenty, but this car knocks that into a cocked hat.

My Audi A3 by Blue Mesa Reservoir
My Audi A3 by Blue Mesa Reservoir

It is simply a joy to drive. It is eager. The turbo always seems to kick in at the right moment and you are whisked away, suddenly doing uncomfortably over the speed limit. This is the first car I've driven since a BMW 325i in 1989 where I've hit the rev limiter as I accelerated away, how eager and smooth was the engine.

During my test drives when I was looking for the replacement to the Acura, I test drove this A3 and also the new Golf GTi. Both have the same engine, a 2.0 litre turbocharged powerplant, and both are equally fast. The Golf was certainly cheaper but the issue I had with it was its fit and finish: it just wasn't up to the level of the Audi. So, I plumped for the more expensive cousin and haven't regretted it.

The car came with the S-line package giving it a firmer sportier ride and some other flourishes. It also had the Open Sky system -- a multi- panel glass sun roof running the length of the car -- the premium package (leather seats etc), the cold weather package (heated seats and mirrors), the technology package (Bluetooth phone connection, automatic wipers and lights). All in all, fully loaded as they say over here.

The things I really like about my A3, apart from the sheer drivebility, are several. I really couldn't do without them now.

  • the rain sensor for the windscreen wipers. This is simply amazing. It starts raining and suddenly the wipers wake up and clean the windscreen. Raining hard? The speed increases. Stops raining? The wipers stop. It's pure magic: I've left the wiper control set on automatic since I took delivery of the car.
  • ditto for the light sensor for the headlights. I've left the headlights on automatic since I've had the car and the sensor does the rest. Dark? The lights come on. Bright? Headlights off; driving lights on.
  • the quick-flick indicator. I know a lot of cars have this now: you partially flick the indicator stalk and the indicators will blink three times, enough for a lane change, say. It's amazing how quickly I've become used to this feature: when I drive my wife's Acura TL which doesn't have it, I'm forever just blinking the indicators once.
  • the Bluetooth phone connection. I get in the car, start the engine and my Nokia syncs up. I don't even have to take it out of my pocket. If I get a call, I press a button on the steering wheel and I can just chat away. Magic.
  • the Open Sky system. The sunroof part opens in three stages, with a separate press in between: just a crack, 3/4 open and fully open. It makes it easy to get the right amount of fresh air. With the RSX I had to watch it opening to get the right point: there were no stages in opening.

My Audi A3 by cliffs
My Audi A3 by cliffs

Now, despite this gushing review so far, there are a few things that are annoying.

  • the whole handbrake, cup holders, and arm rest configuration between the two front seats is nuts. I permanently have the arm rest in its upright position otherwise I have to use my hand and wrist in an awkward angle to use the brake. The cup holders are way too close to the handbrake, so when I get two drinks from Starbucks I have difficulties in using the handbrake without flipping the lids off the drinks.
  • despite my trying hard, and following the hints as set down in the manual, the voice-activated feature for the phone connection doesn't understand my voice. Maybe it's because I have a British accent and the voice-recognition software is geared to an American audience. I've given up with it, in fact, and use the phone's keypad for dialing out.
  • the doors are a little eager or fierce at wanting to close. If I don't open the doors fully, they'll close on me. Mind you, my wife's Acura does the same too, so it's not a unique Audi A3 problem.
  • Phil Long Audi, the dealer from whom I bought the car, have this very annoying habit: the service department have an automated system for phoning up customers to remind them of a service that's coming up. I got the first call after about 2 months. Weird, thought I, the first service shouldn't be until 5000 miles, but I couldn't ask the voice, since it was a recording. Surely it would be better just to have a real someone phoning up? My dentist's office does, as does my hairdressing salon.

Nevertheless, these negatives by no means outweigh the positives. I'm enjoying the Audi A3 like no other.