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USED WHEELS: 2014+ Audi A3 noted for handling, ride comfort


Model: 2014+ Audi A3

Vehicle type: Sedan

History/description:

The latest version of Audi’s compact A3 hit the road in 2014 as an entry-level premium sedan with coveted Audi technologies and design, available Quattro all-wheel drive and a variety of powertrain options. Compact sizing and affordable pricing made it an appealing choice for many shoppers.

Look for a sunroof, premium stereo systems, a digital instrument cluster, automatic climate control, full multimedia connectivity, automatic lights, heated leather, push-button start, a backup camera and plenty more.

A two-litre turbodiesel TDI four-cylinder was available, as was a 1.8-litre turbocharged gasoline engine. The TDI engine offered up 140 horsepower, with the 1.8-litre gas engine developing about 170. Both of these engines were available exclusively with front-wheel drive.

Audi’s two-litre, 220-horsepower turbocharged gas engine could also be had and was the only engine available on AWD-equipped models. All units shipped with an automatic transmission.

many A3 owners have reported that sportier wheels, in combination with low-profile tires, may be more vulnerable to pothole damage on some models.

What owners like:

Handling, build quality, ride comfort and a precise steering feel were noted by owners, as was an appreciable blend of affordability and features. Owners of TDI-powered A3s say they enjoy fuel efficiency and most owners say the A3 feels secure, sturdy and safe.

What owners dislike:

Common gripes centre around limited rear seat space, an up-front learning curve to some of the controls and interfaces, the lack of availability with a manual transmission and a curiously-large turning circle.

The test drive:

Start by inspecting all wheels and tires closely for signs of damage or wear. Cracks, splits, or rips in tire sidewalls, as well as cracked, dented or scraped wheels may be evidence of damage caused by a pothole strike. Though this is possible on any vehicle, many A3 owners have reported that sportier wheels, in combination with low-profile tires, may be more vulnerable to pothole damage on some models.

Some owners report coolant loss, possibly alongside a visible coolant leak, from some models in this generation. Check and monitor coolant levels as outlined in the owner’s manual, on a regular basis. If detected, problems can typically be blamed on a bad water pump, or a faulty overflow tank. Neither is massively expensive to fix. For maximum confidence, ensure that any service work to the cooling system is performed solely by an Audi technician.

Most shoppers should avoid purchasing a used A3 that’s ever had non-factory engine management software installed, perhaps in the form of a chip, tune, or power programmer.

Press your hand, or a rag, into the carpeted edges of the vehicle’s floor, next to the door sills. If moisture or dampness is detected, a leak from the A3’s climate control system, a sunroof drain tube, or through a plastic floor-pan plug may be to blame. Any signs of water leakage or seepage, if detected, should be addressed as soon as possible.

If you’re considering a TDI-powered model, consider having the fuel system and associated pump, lines and emissions components checked professionally at an Audi dealer before you buy, for added peace of mind.

Most A3 owners have not reported transmission-related problems, though shoppers should be aware that hard shifting, or a slamming or jolting sensation during gearshifts requires attention and is typically remedied with the installation of revised software applied to the vehicle’s transmission computer.

Most shoppers should avoid purchasing a used A3 that’s ever had non-factory engine management software installed, perhaps in the form of a chip, tune, or power programmer. These typically turn up the boost from the A3’s turbocharger for more power, but they can cause engine damage and typically void any remaining warranty coverage, even if they’re removed before a visit to the dealer.

Finally, to help keep your new-to-you A3 ticking in tip-top shape for the long-haul, consider the following. First, refuel the vehicle using only high-quality gasoline of the grade specified in the owner’s manual. Second, change the spark plugs a few thousand kilometres earlier than specified under the “severe use” interval in the owner’s manual.

Finally, stick religiously to all fluid change intervals, including engine oil change intervals, and have fluids changed not a moment later than advised in the owner’s manual. This is good advice on any vehicle, and especially vehicles with turbocharged and direct-injected engines like the A3.

The verdict:

Serious issues with this generation A3 should be easy to uncover, though they’re not reported with sufficient volume against overall sales to warranty much worry. Have the A3 you’re considering inspected by an Audi technician before you buy, wherever possible. A healthy and well-maintained used A3 with a positive pre-purchase report from a technician should prove trouble-free for years to come.

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