2019 Audi A3 Sedan vs. 2019 Subaru Impreza

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 Impreza 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 Subaru Impreza 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 Impreza 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 Impreza have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, 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 Subaru Impreza:

 

A3 Sedan

Impreza

 

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Compression

.5 inches

.7 inches

Neck Injury Risk

34%

34%

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 Subaru Impreza:

 

A3 Sedan

Impreza

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Abdominal Force

219 G’s

293 G’s

Hip Force

308 lbs.

400 lbs.

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

277

363

Spine Acceleration

56 G’s

79 G’s

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

13 inches

Spine Acceleration

47 G’s

49 G’s

Hip Force

666 lbs.

824 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 Impreza’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 Impreza’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

The Audi A3 Sedan’s engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the Impreza’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 Impreza’s 130-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Audi vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 25th in initial quality. With 10 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 28th.

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 Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 12 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 14th.

Engine

The A3 Sedan 40 TSFI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 32 more horsepower (184 vs. 152) and 76 lbs.-ft. more torque (221 vs. 145) than the Impreza’s 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. The A3 Sedan 45 TSFI Quattro’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 76 more horsepower (228 vs. 152) and 113 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 145) than the Impreza’s 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the A3 Sedan 45 TSFI is faster than the Subaru Impreza (automatics tested):

 

A3 Sedan

Impreza

Zero to 60 MPH

5.4 sec

9.3 sec

Quarter Mile

14 sec

17.2 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

98.6 MPH

83 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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 Impreza doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The A3 Sedan 45 TFSI Quattro’s standard fuel tank has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Impreza (14.5 vs. 13.2 gallons).

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 Subaru Impreza (6 to 7). This means the A3 Sedan produces up to 1.1 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Impreza every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

The Audi A3 Sedan comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Impreza.

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 more internally efficient than a CVT but just as easy to drive. The Impreza doesn’t offer an SMG.

Brakes and Stopping

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

 

A3 Sedan 40 TFSI

A3 Sedan Quattro 45 TFSI

Impreza

Impreza Sport

Front Rotors

12.3 inches

13.4 inches

10.9 inches

11.6 inches

Rear Rotors

10.7 inches

12.2 inches

10.8 inches

10.8 inches

The A3 Sedan stops much shorter than the Impreza:

 

A3 Sedan

Impreza

 

60 to 0 MPH

108 feet

127 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the A3 Sedan has larger standard tires than the Impreza (225/45R17 vs. 205/55R16). The A3 Sedan Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Impreza (235/35R19 vs. 225/40R18).

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 Impreza’s standard 55 series tires. The A3 Sedan Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the Impreza Sport’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 Impreza. The A3 Sedan Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional 19-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Impreza Sport.

Suspension and Handling

The A3 Sedan has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the A3 Sedan flat and controlled during cornering. The Impreza base model’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

The A3 Sedan has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Impreza doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro handles at .92 G’s, while the Impreza 2.0i Premium Sedan pulls only .82 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 Impreza 2.0i Premium Sedan (25.6 seconds @ .71 average G’s vs. 27.7 seconds @ .6 average G’s).

Chassis

The A3 Sedan is 6.6 inches shorter than the Impreza Sedan, making the A3 Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Servicing Ease

The A3 Sedan uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Impreza 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 Subaru. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 45% lower rating, Subaru is ranked 18th.

Ergonomics

The power windows standard on both the A3 Sedan and the Impreza 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 Impreza prevents the driver from operating the rear 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 Impreza’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 Impreza 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 Impreza’s 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 Impreza 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 Impreza doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The A3 Sedan has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. When the ignition turns off, the headlights turn off after a delay timed to allow you to securely get to your front door. The Impreza has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the Premium/Sport/Limited.

The A3 Sedan’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Subaru only offers heated mirrors on the Impreza Premium/Sport/Limited.

The A3 Sedan’s 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. The Impreza doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

Both the A3 Sedan and the Impreza 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 Impreza 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 Impreza doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

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

The A3 Sedan is available in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations. The Impreza doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the A3 Sedan is less expensive to operate than the Impreza because typical repairs cost less on the A3 Sedan than the Impreza, including $66 less for a fuel pump and $59 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Audi A3 Sedan and the Subaru Impreza, 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 Impreza isn’t in the top three.

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

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