We have a little email group here in Australia and every day we address certain issues confronting the motoring world. It’s a tough job, but someone has to sort these things out.
Right now, we’re trying to find one of our people a new vehicle. There are set criteria in place, of course, and it’s been fun to see the suggestions being thrown around.
One of the models that came up in discussion was the Audi A3/S3 and I have to confess I teed off on it. It’s fair to say I’m not a fan.
My main argument lies with the A3 (as distinguished from the S3), which I see as little more than a gussied up Volkswagen Golf. Recent models are a little more distinctive, but the A3’s I see mostly here in Hobart are around 5 years old, like the one to the right, and whenever I see one, as I did on the way home from work tonight, the only thing I can think is “What a knob!”
The A3 of this era comes across to me as an old-school GM attempt to squeeze more money out of a small platform without really trying that hard. It’s bland beyond belief and at the price you’d pay for a new one (back when they were new) you would have been much more entertained with a Golf GTI. The GTI is a much more genuine car, too, with all of its hot hatch heritage intact. All Audi can do is try to dress that heritage in some fancier clothes.
The A3 of this era is a cash grab, plain and simple, and as such is a car for those with more money than sense.
The A3 of today looks a little more distinctive, but still plays in a segment that the Golf basically owns – the compact five door hatch market. You can pay as much as A$60,000 for a new A3 here in Australia (the ‘kick me’ sign for your back comes free). Why anyone would do that when you can get, once again, a Golf GTI for $15,000 less is beyond me. Sure, the Audi might have a nicer interior, but it’s not as if it’s awe inspiring and the GTI’s interior is poor by comparison.
The S3 is a little more compelling. It’s got a more powerful engine, more aggressive styling and again, a theoretically more sporty interior. But is the interior comparison that compelling in favour of the S3?
S3 above, GTI below……
If you think the A3 is expensive, then how about around A$80,000 for an Audi S3? You can get a 2012 model DSG Golf GTI for around $30,000 less, not to mention plenty of other hot hatches that will deliver plenty of motoring thrills, even if they’re missing the cachet afforded to the four-ringed badge right now.
Make no mistake, Audi make some wonderful motor cars. They are very close to out-Teutonic-ing the other storied German brands right now. It’s just that when it comes to the A3/S3 range, I reckon they’re laughing all the way to the bank and if you’ve bought one, they’re not laughing with you.
My final argument – why on earth would you spend $80,000 on an Audi S3, a performance oriented compact luxury vehicle, when you could spend the same money and get any of these (none of which, I might add, match the criteria for a new car that started this whole discussion, but still……).
All of those cars make a much more compelling argument for me at that price. More class, better fun, better re-sale, better in pretty much every way except carrying capacity.
IMHO, the Audi A3/S3 is for knobs. What say you?