Motor Trend just recently took hold of an Audi A3 TDI as part of their long-term test fleet. Previously the MT staff was driving an A3 1.8T, but has since swapped it for the diesel model. It’s some sort of plan to drive all three A3 variants at some point during their long-term test. However, as now is the TDI portion of Motor Trend’s tenure with the A3, we’re going to talk about what that think of it so far.
First, a little on its equipment. The Audi A3 TDI Premium that MT has is a front-wheel drive model, with the six-speed twin-clutch automatic, MMI Navigation Plus and the Premium Plus specification. The total cost for this car rings in at $39,195. That’s simply outrageous to suggest that a front-wheel drive sedan the size of a shoe with a 2.0 liter diesel engine should cost almost $40,000. You can get a decently equipped A4 for that kind of money. But on to what they found.
Apparently, if you’re in the market for an A3, stay far away from the TDI model. Everyone who’s driven the A3 seems to generally like it. It’s smooth, handles well, is reasonably quick, sized properly and comfortable. The same goes for this Audi A3 TDI. However, MT’s one complaint? The powertrain. It’s apparently a disaster. The engine is jerky at low speeds and hard to get moving slowly. The transmission, whether it be it’s own programming or the pairing of it to the TDI engine, fails to realize what to do in traffic and when you lift off throttle. Sometimes it shifts up too soon, sometimes it hods gears too long. But it’s almost always doing something incorrectly. Something is wrong here.
It’s actually reasonably quick, needing only 8.2 seconds to reach 60 mph, which isn’t bad for a small diesel. It also handles well and stops quickly. But apparently, it just isn’t as smooth or nice to drive as it should be. Which is sad, and frankly inexcusable, at that price range.
So is it worth it to buy the A3 TDI for $40 grand? If the price were much lower, it might be worth it to deal with some of its flaws, as the power, comfort and efficiency would allow you to overlook its quibbles. However, at $40,000, powertrain refinement shouldn’t be an issue. We recently wondered if the Audi A3 as a whole was worth buying, considering it awkward pricing that isn’t much less than the bigger, faster and better handling A4. With this news of the TDI not being all it’s cracked up to be, is there more fuel to the “A3 not worth it” fire?