2019 Audi A3 Sedan vs. 2019 Kia Cadenza

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 Cadenza 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 Kia Cadenza 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 Cadenza 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 Cadenza doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

Both the A3 Sedan and the Cadenza have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee 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, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

The A3 Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 7 years and unlimited miles longer than the Cadenza’s (12/unlimited vs. 5/100,000).

Reliability

The Audi A3 Sedan’s engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the Cadenza’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 Cadenza’s 180-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the A3 Sedan’s reliability 29 points higher than the Cadenza.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Kia vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 2 more problems per 100 vehicles, Kia is ranked 10th.

Engine

The A3 Sedan 45 TSFI Quattro’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 5 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 253) than the Cadenza’s 3.3 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the A3 Sedan 45 TSFI is faster than the Kia Cadenza:

 

A3 Sedan

Cadenza

Zero to 60 MPH

5.4 sec

6.5 sec

Quarter Mile

14 sec

14.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

98.6 MPH

95.8 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

 

 

 

MPG

A3 Sedan

 

FWD

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

26 city/35 hwy

 

AWD

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

Cadenza

 

FWD

3.3 DOHC V6

20 city/27 hwy

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the A3 Sedan’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Cadenza doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

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 Kia Cadenza (3). This means the A3 Sedan produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Cadenza every 15,000 miles.

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 Cadenza doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the A3 Sedan Quattro 45 TFSI’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Cadenza:

 

A3 Quattro 45 TFSI

Cadenza

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

11.8 inches

The A3 Sedan stops much shorter than the Cadenza:

 

A3 Sedan

Cadenza

 

60 to 0 MPH

108 feet

120 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 Cadenza Technology/Limited’s 40 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro handles at .92 G’s, while the Cadenza Limited pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2 seconds quicker than the Cadenza Limited (25.6 seconds @ .71 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .63 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the A3 Sedan’s turning circle is 1.1 feet tighter than the Cadenza’s (36.1 feet vs. 37.2 feet).

Chassis

The Audi A3 Sedan may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 450 pounds less than the Kia Cadenza.

The A3 Sedan is 1 foot, 8.2 inches shorter than the Cadenza, 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 Cadenza’s liftover is 28.8 inches.

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

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Kia. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 45% lower rating, Kia is ranked 18th.

Ergonomics

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 Cadenza’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

If the windows are left open on the A3 Sedan the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Cadenza can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

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 Cadenza’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

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 Cadenza 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 Cadenza doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The A3 Sedan Prestige has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Cadenza has an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

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 Cadenza doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

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

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the A3 Sedan is less expensive to operate than the Cadenza because typical repairs cost much less on the A3 Sedan than the Cadenza, including $285 less for a muffler and $43 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Audi A3 Sedan, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Kia Cadenza isn't recommended.

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 Cadenza isn’t in the top three in its category.

The Audi A3/S3 outsold the Kia Cadenza by over four to one during 2018.

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

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