2019 Audi A3 Sedan vs. 2019 Volkswagen GTI

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 GTI 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 Volkswagen GTI has only front height-adjustable seat belts.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests front crash prevention systems. With a score of 6 points, IIHS rates the Audi Pre Sense Front in the A3 Sedan as “Superior.” The GTI scores only 3 points and is rated only “Advanced.”

The A3 Sedan 45 TSFI has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The GTI doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

Both the A3 Sedan and the GTI have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, post-collision automatic braking systems, 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 Volkswagen GTI:

 

A3 Sedan

GTI

 

Driver

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

217

454

 

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

34%

37%

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 Volkswagen GTI:

 

A3 Sedan

GTI

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

13 inches

Hip Force

666 lbs.

834 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 GTI was last qualified as a “Top Pick” in 2017.

Warranty

The A3 Sedan comes with free roadside assistance for 4 years unlimited miles. Audi will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump-start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Volkswagen doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the GTI.

The A3 Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 2 years longer than the GTI’s (12 vs. 10 years).

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the A3 Sedan’s reliability 11 points higher than the GTI.

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 Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 7 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 12th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 9 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Engine

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

 

A3 Sedan

GTI

Zero to 60 MPH

5.4 sec

6 sec

Quarter Mile

14 sec

14.5 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

98.6 MPH

98.4 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

 

 

 

MPG

A3 Sedan

FWD

Auto

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

26 city/35 hwy

GTI

FWD

Manual

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

24 city/32 hwy

 

Auto

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

25 city/31 hwy

Regardless of its engine, the A3 Sedan’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Volkswagen only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the GTI Automatic.

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

Transmission

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

Brakes and Stopping

The A3 Sedan stops much shorter than the GTI:

 

A3 Sedan

GTI

 

70 to 0 MPH

156 feet

163 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

108 feet

129 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 GTI (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 GTI’s 40 series tires.

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

Suspension and Handling

The A3 Sedan’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (58.1% to 41.9%) than the GTI’s (60.4% to 39.6%). This gives the A3 Sedan more stable handling and braking.

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro handles at .94 G’s, while the GTI SE pulls only .91 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the GTI Autobahn (25.6 seconds @ .71 average G’s vs. 26.1 seconds @ .69 average G’s).

Chassis

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

 

A3 Sedan

GTI

At idle

41 dB

52 dB

Full-Throttle

73 dB

81 dB

70 MPH Cruising

67 dB

67 dB

Cargo Capacity

A standard locking glovebox keeps your small valuables safer in the A3 Sedan. The GTI doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 43% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 16th.

Ergonomics

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 GTI can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The A3 Sedan’s available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the GTI’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

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 GTI 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 GTI doesn’t offer extendable visors.

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 GTI 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 GTI Autobahn.

Model Availability

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

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Audi A3 Sedan, 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 GTI isn’t in the top three in its category.

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

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