2019 Audi A3 Sedan vs. 2018 Lexus ES Series

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi A3 Sedan are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Lexus ES Series has only front height-adjustable seat belts.

The A3 Sedan has a standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The ES Series doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The A3 Sedan 45 TSFI has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The ES Series doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

Both the A3 Sedan and the ES Series have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Audi A3 Sedan is safer than the Lexus ES Series:

 

A3 Sedan

ES Series

 

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

284

304

Neck Compression

139 lbs.

147 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

329/424 lbs.

520/514 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Audi A3 Sedan is safer than the Lexus ES Series:

 

A3 Sedan

ES Series

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

1.1 inches

1.3 inches

Abdominal Force

219 G’s

245 G’s

Hip Force

308 lbs.

510 lbs.

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

16 inches

Hip Force

666 lbs.

879 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

The A3 Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 6 years longer than the ES Series’ (12 vs. 6 years).

There are over 26 percent more Audi dealers than there are Lexus dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the A3 Sedan’s warranty.

Reliability

The Audi A3 Sedan’s engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the ES Series’ engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

Engine

The A3 Sedan 40 TSFI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 22 lbs.-ft. more torque (221 vs. 199) than the ES 300h’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid. The A3 Sedan 45 TSFI’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 10 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 248) than the ES 350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the A3 Sedan 45 TSFI is faster than the ES 350:

 

A3 Sedan

ES Series

Zero to 60 MPH

5.4 sec

6 sec

Quarter Mile

14 sec

14.4 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the A3 Sedan 40 TSFI FWD gets better fuel mileage than the ES 350 (26 city/35 hwy vs. 21 city/30 hwy).

Transmission

The A3 Sedan offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The ES Series doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the A3 Sedan’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the ES Series:

 

A3 Sedan

ES Series

Front Rotors

12.3 inches

11.6 inches

The A3 Sedan stops much shorter than the ES Series:

 

A3 Sedan

ES Series

 

70 to 0 MPH

156 feet

185 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

108 feet

132 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the A3 Sedan has larger standard tires than the ES Series (225/45R17 vs. 215/55R17). The A3 Sedan Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the ES Series (235/35R19 vs. 225/45R18).

The A3 Sedan’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the ES Series’ standard 55 series tires. The A3 Sedan Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the ES Series’ optional 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the A3 Sedan Premium Plus/Prestige offers optional 19-inch wheels. The ES Series’ largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Suspension and Handling

The A3 Sedan has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The ES Series doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro handles at .94 G’s, while the ES 300h pulls only .76 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.9 seconds quicker than the ES 350 (25.6 seconds @ .71 average G’s vs. 28.5 seconds @ .61 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the A3 Sedan’s turning circle is 1.3 feet tighter than the ES Series’ (36.1 feet vs. 37.4 feet).

Chassis

The Audi A3 Sedan may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 300 to 350 pounds less than the Lexus ES Series.

The A3 Sedan is 1 foot, 5.8 inches shorter than the ES Series, making the A3 Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Cargo Capacity

The A3 Sedan’s standard rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The ES Series doesn’t offer folding rear seats, only a ski pass-through.

Ergonomics

The power windows standard on both the A3 Sedan and the ES Series have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the A3 Sedan is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The ES Series prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the A3 Sedan to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The ES Series doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The A3 Sedan offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The ES Series doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The A3 Sedan’s power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The ES Series’ power mirror controls are on the dash, hidden behind the steering wheel, where they are awkward to manipulate.

The A3 Sedan Prestige’s Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The ES Series doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The Audi A3 comes in convertible, sedan and station wagon bodystyles; the Lexus ES Series isn’t available as a convertible or station wagon.

Economic Advantages

The A3 Sedan will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the A3 Sedan will retain 47% to 47.42% of its original price after five years, while the ES Series only retains 44.72% to 46.88%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the A3 Sedan is less expensive to operate than the ES Series because typical repairs cost much less on the A3 Sedan than the ES Series, including $60 less for fuel injection, $103 less for a fuel pump, $994 less for a timing belt/chain and $358 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Audi A3 Sedan and the Lexus ES Series, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the A3 Sedan first among small premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The ES Series isn’t in the top three in its category.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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