2019 Audi A3 Sedan vs. 2019 Lexus IS 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 IS 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 IS 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.

Both the A3 Sedan and the IS Series have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, 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 IS Series:

 

A3 Sedan

IS Series

 

Driver

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

217

274

 

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Compression

.5 inches

.6 inches

Neck Injury Risk

34%

55%

Leg Forces (l/r)

329/424 lbs.

426/505 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 IS Series:

 

A3 Sedan

IS Series

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

308 lbs.

474 lbs.

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

15 inches

Hip Force

666 lbs.

806 lbs.

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

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, its standard front crash prevention system, its “Good” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the A3 Sedan the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 85 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The IS Series has not been fully tested, yet.

Warranty

The A3 Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 6 years longer than the IS 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 IS Series’ engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the A3 Sedan’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the IS Series’ camshafts. If the IS Series’ belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

Engine

As tested in Car and Driver the A3 Sedan 45 TSFI is faster than the IS 350:

 

A3 Sedan

IS Series

Zero to 30 MPH

1.9 sec

2 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.4 sec

5.6 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

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

 

 

 

MPG

A3 Sedan

 

FWD

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

26 city/35 hwy

 

AWD

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

IS Series

 

RWD

300 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

21 city/30 hwy

 

 

350 3.5 DOHC V6

20 city/28 hwy

 

AWD

300 3.5 DOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

 

 

350 3.5 DOHC V6

19 city/26 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 IS Series doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Environmental Friendliness

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certifies the Audi A3 Sedan as a “Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle” (PZEV). The Lexus IS Series is only certified to “Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (ULEV) standards.

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 IS Series 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 IS Series:

 

A3 Quattro 45 TFSI

IS Series

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

13.1 inches

The A3 Sedan stops much shorter than the IS Series:

 

A3 Sedan

IS Series

 

80 to 0 MPH

219 feet

226 feet

Road and Track

70 to 0 MPH

156 feet

177 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

108 feet

128 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the A3 Sedan Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the IS Series (235/35R19 vs. 225/40R18).

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 IS Series’ optional 40 series front tires.

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

Suspension and Handling

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro handles at .94 G’s, while the IS Series AWD pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.5 seconds quicker than the IS Series (25.6 seconds @ .71 average G’s vs. 27.1 seconds @ .65 average G’s).

Chassis

The Audi A3 Sedan may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 400 pounds less than the Lexus IS Series.

The A3 Sedan is 8.8 inches shorter than the IS Series, making the A3 Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver while at idle, the interior of the A3 Sedan Premium Quattro is quieter than the IS 350 F Sport (41 vs. 42 dB).

Cargo Capacity

The A3 Sedan has a much larger trunk than the IS Series (12.3 vs. 10.8 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

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

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 IS 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 IS 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 IS Series doesn’t offer headlight washers.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the A3 Sedan has standard extendable sun visors. The IS Series doesn’t offer extendable visors.

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 IS Series doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The Audi A3 comes in convertible, sedan and station wagon bodystyles; the Lexus IS Series 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 $1250 to $6855 less than the IS Series over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the A3 Sedan is less expensive to operate than the IS Series because typical repairs cost much less on the A3 Sedan than the IS Series, including $405 less for a starter, $276 less for fuel injection, $88 less for a fuel pump, $814 less for a timing belt/chain and $433 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Audi A3 Sedan will be $6310 to $7232 less than for the Lexus IS Series.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Audi A3 Sedan, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Lexus IS Series 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 IS Series isn’t in the top three in its category.

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

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