Home Articles LIFESTYLE: Motoring: Audi A3 Sedan 1.8 TFSI & BMW M135i

LIFESTYLE: Motoring: Audi A3 Sedan 1.8 TFSI & BMW M135i

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Audi A3 Sedan   1.8 TFSI

The ever-changing vehicle market has seen a growing number of executives that seek up-market sedans that are good-looking and have a sporty finesse as well. Audi has listened to the needs of its customers and have launched the all new A3 sedan.

This is not just a booted version of the now popular A3 hatchback. This vehicle has been designed from scratch to be a sedan. Even though it does share some underpinnings of the A3 hatch, the overall dynamics of the vehicle are very different.

From the front of the car, there is not much that distinguishes the sedan from the hatch, but on closer inspection you will notice that the lower end of the bumper is squarish. The now infamous grill takes up most of the front end and the perfectly carved headlights just complete the picture. The sedan has sculptured lines that run the length of the body, with an accentuated lower section. This, together with the large mag wheels and other S-line add-ons, gives the car a real sporty look. The rear end is finished with a chubby short boot lid and new designed rear lights. The swooping rear windscreen almost gives the car a coupé – look.

The one difference to Audi’s offering compared to its rivals is that Audi has opted for a more practical four-door sedan as opposed to just a sporty two-door coupé. In keeping with the practical theme, five adults should fit – however, four will sit a lot more comfortably. The boot may look small from the outside, but lift the lid and you find a rather carnivorous one that will swallow anything you throw at it. The only drawback is the small opening.

Inside the vehicle there is a fresh new minimalistic dashboard that gives an airy and spacious look. The circular air vents give a sporty feel to the interior and the only buttons and knobs that are on the actual dashboard are for the ventilation system. The infotainment screen comes out from the dashboard and is neatly stowed away when not in use. I have to admit I think this is the best execution of the infotainment screen I have yet seen. The rest of the vehicle’s offerings are controlled through the dial and a few buttons that are located where you would normally find the hand brake. The dial also has a track pad which can be used for manual dialling instead of looking and turning the dial to find the number required.

The driver’s position is easily customised to make you feel comfortable. The S-line steering wheel is nice and chunky in keeping with the sporty theme. The test vehicle was the fitted with the 1,8-litre TFSi motor and the multitronic gearbox ensures that all the power from the motor is seamlessly transferred to the wheels. On the road the car is fun to drive. The tried and tested Audi front-wheel-drive system feels well balanced and easily controllable.

Over all I think Audi has a winner on its hands. The A3 sedan is well built and feels  solid with all the quality finishes expected by today’s  executives.  Even though it’s priced closely to its bigger sibling, the A4, it has already captured the hearts of many. ❐

BMW M135i

Take the sleek new BMW 1 series in its motorsport version with its scoops and bumper inlays. Add to this dual tail pipes one on each side and a rather large front air intake that exposes the intercoolers. Finish this off with charcoal rims, not black as this would be too much. Then just for good measure throw in a 3,0-litre twin-turbo six-cylinder engine, and what you have is the all new BMW M135i.

This vehicle looks every bit the part of a hot hatch, but it does not take it to ridiculous levels with large spoilers that scream for attention. It is perfectly balanced and looks almost menacing with its now famous twin circular xenon lights.

All this is immediately forgotten when you slip into the sporty leather seats and your hand falls to the chunky short stick manual gearbox, you depress the clutch and hit the start button. Immediately there’s shiver down your spine as the six-cylinder engine growls to life before settling down to a subdued hum. The thick-rim M steering wheel sends the sensation from the engine to your fingertips. Just in case you have not yet realised that this car is special, the extended display has the BMW “M” badge and the 135i logo in colour just below the rev counter.

This four-door version has ample legroom for five adults, although elbow room may be a problem if you are planning longer distances. The boot space is also decent for a hatchback. The sport seats up front are comfortable and in electric guise it can be moulded to almost any body type. This makes you feel like you are sitting in a body glove.

The six-speed manual gearbox was a nice change to the now common seven-plus speed automatic gearboxes. The manual gearbox not only makes you feel like you are actually in control of driving the vehicle, but it is also has the perfect gear ratios to keep the power available at all times.

On the road the car is an absolute pleasure to drive. Depending on your mood, you can opt for a quite cruise in the Eco Pro drive mode or if you prefer hearing a bit more of a growl, you can opt for the comfort option. Then you have the option of really feeling like a race driver in the Sport and Sport+ modes. This pushes the engine sound to its maximum and stiffens everything, almost transforming the vehicle from a docile hatch to an adrenalin-pumping racing vehicle. I personally would not put the vehicle into Sport+ mode unless you know how to handle the power, as this mode does disable some of the safety aids. The vehicle is sure-footed and easy to drive on the road but it’s fun when overtaking as the slightest pressure on the fuel pedal gives the impression that the car feels is launching off.  All you see is the vehicle you just passed disappearing in the rear-view mirror.

I have to admit this vehicle was very hard to fault, as it has amazing power that is available almost from idle. It is comfortable and the fuel consumption was pretty good for a vehicle like this (I averaged 7 litres per 100 kilometres on the long road). The car is easy to drive and it looks pretty good. So the only negative – if there had to be one – would be that the front-door handle was not very user-friendly for closing from inside the car. Many would say that the car is pricey, but the smile it brings to your face every time you start it makes me feel that it is worth every cent.

I think BMW have created the perfect Hot Hatch … ❐

Author: Torque Talk is a member of SAGMJ