2019 Audi A3 Sedan vs. 2019 Lexus ES Series

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 ES Series 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 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.

To help make backing safer, the A3 Sedan’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The ES Series doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the A3 Sedan and the ES Series have standard driver and passenger frontal 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 and rear parking sensors.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the A3 Sedan the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 85 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The ES Series has not been tested, yet.

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

As tested in Motor Trend the A3 Sedan 45 TSFI is faster than the ES 300h:

 

A3 Sedan

ES Series

Zero to 60 MPH

5.4 sec

7.8 sec

Quarter Mile

14 sec

16 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

98.6 MPH

90.6 MPH

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. 22 city/33 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

12 inches

The A3 Sedan stops much shorter than the ES Series:

 

A3 Sedan

ES Series

 

60 to 0 MPH

108 feet

140 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’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 40 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro handles at .92 G’s, while the ES 300h pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.8 seconds quicker than the ES 300h (25.6 seconds @ .71 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .6 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the A3 Sedan’s turning circle is 1.9 feet tighter than the ES Series’ (36.1 feet vs. 38 feet). The A3 Sedan’s turning circle is 2.7 feet tighter than the ES Series w/18-19” wheels’ (36.1 feet vs. 38.8 feet).

Chassis

The Audi A3 Sedan may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 350 to 450 pounds less than the Lexus ES Series.

The A3 Sedan is 1 foot, 8.4 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.

Servicing Ease

A maintenance reminder system is standard on the A3 Sedan to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes, spark plug replacement, air filter replacement and tire rotation based on odometer mileage. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Lexus doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the ES Series.

Ergonomics

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 ES Series’ 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 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 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.

Recommendations

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

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

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