2019 Audi A3 Sedan vs. 2018 Nissan Maxima

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The A3 Sedan’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Maxima doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

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 Nissan Maxima 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 Maxima 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 Maxima doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The A3 Sedan’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Maxima doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

Both the A3 Sedan and the Maxima have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available 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 Nissan Maxima:

 

A3 Sedan

Maxima

 

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Compression

.5 inches

.7 inches

Leg Forces (l/r)

329/424 lbs.

840/589 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 Nissan Maxima:

 

A3 Sedan

Maxima

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

172

295

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

277

391

Spine Acceleration

56 G’s

57 G’s

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

16 inches

Spine Acceleration

47 G’s

53 G’s

Hip Force

666 lbs.

997 lbs.

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

Warranty

The A3 Sedan comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Maxima’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The A3 Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Maxima’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

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

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the A3 Sedan has a standard 320-amp alternator. The Maxima’s 150-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 7 places higher in reliability than Nissan.

Engine

As tested in Motor Trend the A3 Sedan 45 TSFI is faster than the Nissan Maxima:

 

A3 Sedan

Maxima

Zero to 60 MPH

5.4 sec

6 sec

Quarter Mile

14 sec

14.5 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the A3 Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the Maxima:

 

 

 

MPG

A3

 

FWD

40 TSFI 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

26 city/35 hwy

 

Quattro

45 TFSI 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

24 city/31 hwy

Maxima

 

FWD

3.5 DOHC V6

21 city/30 hwy

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Audi A3 Sedan uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended on A3 Sedan 45 TSFI for maximum performance). The Maxima requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Audi A3 Sedan higher (7 out of 10) than the Nissan Maxima (3). This means the A3 Sedan produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Maxima every 15,000 miles.

The EPA certifies the Audi A3 Sedan as a “Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle” (PZEV). The Nissan Maxima is only certified to “Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (ULEV) standards.

Brakes and Stopping

The A3 Sedan stops much shorter than the Maxima:

 

A3 Sedan

Maxima

 

70 to 0 MPH

156 feet

168 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

108 feet

125 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

The A3 Sedan Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Maxima 3.5 SR’s 40 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

The A3 Sedan’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (58.1% to 41.9%) than the Maxima’s (60.8% to 39.2%). This gives the A3 Sedan more stable handling and braking.

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro handles at .92 G’s, while the Maxima Platinum pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.4 seconds quicker than the Maxima Platinum (25.6 seconds @ .71 average G’s vs. 27 seconds @ .67 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the A3 Sedan’s turning circle is 2 feet tighter than the Maxima’s (36.1 feet vs. 38.1 feet).

Chassis

The Audi A3 Sedan may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 250 to 300 pounds less than the Nissan Maxima.

The A3 Sedan is 1 foot, 5.3 inches shorter than the Maxima, making the A3 Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Cargo Capacity

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the A3 Sedan easier. The A3 Sedan’s trunk lift-over height is 26.3 inches, while the Maxima’s liftover is 28.8 inches.

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Nissan. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 47% lower rating, Nissan is ranked 20th.

Ergonomics

The power windows standard on both the A3 Sedan and the Maxima 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 Maxima prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The A3 Sedan’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Maxima’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

The A3 Sedan’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Maxima’s standard intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

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 Maxima 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 Maxima doesn’t offer headlight washers.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the A3 Sedan Prestige detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Maxima doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The A3 Sedan’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Nissan only offers heated mirrors on the Maxima SV/SL/SR/Platinum.

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 Maxima doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

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

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the A3 Sedan owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the A3 Sedan will cost $1750 less than the Maxima over a five-year period.

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 Maxima only retains 36.9% to 38.7%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the A3 Sedan is less expensive to operate than the Maxima because typical repairs cost much less on the A3 Sedan than the Maxima, including $58 less for a muffler, $50 less for fuel injection, $93 less for a fuel pump and $377 less for a timing belt/chain.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Audi A3 Sedan will be $6615 to $7337 less than for the Nissan Maxima.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Audi A3 Sedan and the Nissan Maxima, 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 Maxima was rated second in its category.

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

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