2019 Audi A3 Sedan vs. 2019 Subaru Legacy

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 Legacy 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 Legacy 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 Legacy 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 Legacy have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact 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 Subaru Legacy:

 

A3 Sedan

Legacy

 

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Compression

.5 inches

.6 inches

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 post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Audi A3 Sedan is safer than the Subaru Legacy:

 

A3 Sedan

Legacy

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

17 inches

Hip Force

666 lbs.

736 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 Legacy’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 Legacy’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

The Audi A3 Sedan’s engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the Legacy’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

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’ 2018 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 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 26 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 24th.

Engine

The A3 Sedan 40 TSFI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 9 more horsepower (184 vs. 175) and 47 lbs.-ft. more torque (221 vs. 174) than the Legacy 2.5i’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. The A3 Sedan 45 TSFI’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 11 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 247) than the Legacy 3.6R Limited’s standard 3.6 DOHC 6 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the A3 Sedan 45 TSFI is faster than the Legacy 3.6R Limited:

 

A3 Sedan

Legacy

Zero to 30 MPH

1.9 sec

3 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.4 sec

7.1 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14 sec

17.7 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.3 sec

7.3 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3.2 sec

3.6 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4 sec

4.4 sec

Quarter Mile

14 sec

15.5 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100 MPH

94 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the A3 Sedan 45 TSFI Quattro gets better fuel mileage than the Legacy 3.6R Limited (24 city/31 hwy vs. 20 city/28 hwy).

Brakes and Stopping

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

 

A3 Sedan

Legacy

Front Rotors

12.3 inches

11.6 inches

The A3 Sedan stops much shorter than the Legacy:

 

A3 Sedan

Legacy

 

70 to 0 MPH

156 feet

179 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

108 feet

123 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 Legacy (235/35R19 vs. 225/55R17).

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 Legacy 2.5i/2.5i Premium’s standard 55 series tires. The A3 Sedan Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the Legacy Sport/Limited’s 50 series tires.

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

Suspension and Handling

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro handles at .94 G’s, while the Legacy 3.6R Limited pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2 seconds quicker than the Legacy 2.5i Limited (25.6 seconds @ .71 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .6 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the A3 Sedan’s turning circle is .7 feet tighter than the Legacy’s (36.1 feet vs. 36.8 feet).

Chassis

The Audi A3 Sedan may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 300 to 350 pounds less than the Subaru Legacy.

The A3 Sedan is 1 foot, 1.6 inches shorter than the Legacy, 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 Legacy 3.6R Limited:

 

A3 Sedan

Legacy

At idle

41 dB

44 dB

Full-Throttle

73 dB

74 dB

70 MPH Cruising

67 dB

69 dB

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. Subaru doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the Legacy.

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 Legacy 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 Legacy 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 Legacy’s standard passenger windows don’t open or close automatically. With the Legacy Premium//Limited’s optional power windows, only the front windows open or close automatically.

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 Legacy 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 Legacy’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 Legacy 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 Legacy doesn’t offer headlight washers.

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 Legacy Premium/Sport/Limited.

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 Legacy Premium/Sport/Limited.

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

Model Availability

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

The A3 Sedan is available in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations. The Legacy 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 Legacy because typical repairs cost less on the A3 Sedan than the Legacy, including $62 less for a fuel pump and $113 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

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

Motor Trend performed a comparison test in its January 2015 issue and they ranked the Audi A3 Sedan Premium Quattro higher than the Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium.

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

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

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