2019 Audi A3 Sedan vs. 2019 Nissan Altima

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 Altima 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 Altima 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 Altima 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 Altima 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, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

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 Altima has not been tested, yet.

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 Altima’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 Altima’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

The Audi A3 Sedan’s engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the Altima’s engines use 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 Altima’s 120-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

The A3 Sedan 40 TSFI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 41 lbs.-ft. more torque (221 vs. 180) than the Altima’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the A3 Sedan 45 TSFI is faster than the Nissan Altima 2.0 VC Turbo:

 

A3 Sedan

Altima

Zero to 60 MPH

5.4 sec

6.1 sec

Quarter Mile

14 sec

14.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

98.6 MPH

97.4 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the A3 Sedan 40 TSFI FWD gets better fuel mileage than the Altima 2.0 VC Turbo (26 city/35 hwy vs. 25 city/34 hwy).

Environmental Friendliness

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certifies the Audi A3 Sedan as a “Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle” (PZEV). The Nissan Altima is only certified to “Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (SULEV) standards.

Brakes and Stopping

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

 

A3 Sedan

Altima

Front Rotors

12.3 inches

11.65 inches

The A3 Sedan stops much shorter than the Altima:

 

A3 Sedan

Altima

 

70 to 0 MPH

156 feet

172 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

108 feet

119 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the A3 Sedan has larger standard tires than the Altima (225/45R17 vs. 215/60R16).

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 Altima S’ standard 60 series tires. The A3 Sedan Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the Altima SR/Platinum’s 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the A3 Sedan has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Altima S.

Suspension and Handling

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro handles at .92 G’s, while the Altima SV AWD pulls only .84 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.1 seconds quicker than the Altima SV AWD (25.6 seconds @ .71 average G’s vs. 27.7 seconds @ .61 average G’s).

Chassis

The A3 Sedan is 1 foot, 5.4 inches shorter than the Altima, making the A3 Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the A3 Sedan Premium Quattro is quieter than the Altima Platinum:

 

A3 Sedan

Altima

Full-Throttle

73 dB

79 dB

70 MPH Cruising

67 dB

70 dB

Cargo Capacity

To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the A3 Sedan’s trunk lid uses concealed beam hinges that don’t intrude into the trunk. Its intrusive beam hinge reduces the Altima’s useful trunk space.

Servicing Ease

The A3 Sedan uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Altima uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

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 Altima 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 Altima 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 Altima’s standard passenger windows don’t open or close automatically. With the Altima SV/SL/Platinum’s power windows, only the front windows open or close automatically.

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 Altima’s 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 Altima 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 Altima doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The A3 Sedan’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Nissan charges extra for heated mirrors on the Altima.

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 Altima offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The A3 Sedan has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Altima SV/SL/Platinum.

Both the A3 Sedan and the Altima offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the A3 Sedan has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Altima doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

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 Altima doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The Audi A3 comes in convertible, sedan and station wagon bodystyles; the Nissan Altima 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 Altima only retains 35.93% to 40.44%.

Recommendations

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

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

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