2019 Audi A3 Sedan vs. 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

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 Jetta 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 Jetta has only front height-adjustable seat belts.

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

The A3 Sedan’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Jetta doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

Both the A3 Sedan and the Jetta 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 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 Jetta has not been tested, yet.

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 Jetta.

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

Reliability

The Audi A3 Sedan’s engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the Jetta’s engine uses 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 belt that needs periodic replacement drives the Jetta’s camshafts. If the Jetta’s cam drive belt breaks the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

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 Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 16 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 19th.

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

The A3 Sedan 40 TSFI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 37 more horsepower (184 vs. 147) and 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (221 vs. 184) than the Jetta’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. The A3 Sedan 45 TSFI’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 81 more horsepower (228 vs. 147) and 74 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 184) than the Jetta’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

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

 

A3 Sedan

Jetta

Zero to 60 MPH

5.4 sec

7.8 sec

Quarter Mile

14 sec

16 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

98.6 MPH

86.5 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

Environmental Friendliness

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

Transmission

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

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 Jetta 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 Jetta:

 

A3 Sedan

Jetta

Front Rotors

12.3 inches

11.5 inches

The A3 Sedan stops much shorter than the Jetta:

 

A3 Sedan

Jetta

 

70 to 0 MPH

156 feet

191 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

108 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the A3 Sedan has larger standard tires than the Jetta (225/45R17 vs. 205/60R16). The A3 Sedan Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Jetta (235/35R19 vs. 205/60R16).

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 Jetta’s standard 60 series tires. The A3 Sedan Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the Jetta R-Line/SEL Premium’s 55 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 Jetta. The A3 Sedan Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional 19-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels on the Jetta R-Line/SEL Premium.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Audi A3 Sedan has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Volkswagen Jetta has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

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

The A3 Sedan Premium Quattro handles at .94 G’s, while the Jetta R-Line pulls only .83 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 Jetta SEL (25.6 seconds @ .71 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

Chassis

The A3 Sedan is 9.6 inches shorter than the Jetta, making the A3 Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Cargo Capacity

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the A3 Sedan easier. The A3 Sedan’s trunk lift-over height is 26.3 inches, while the Jetta’s liftover is 28.7 inches.

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 Jetta’s useful trunk space.

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

Servicing Ease

The A3 Sedan uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Jetta 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 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 Jetta can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

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 Jetta’s 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. Heated windshield washer nozzles are not available on the Jetta S.

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 Jetta doesn’t offer headlight washers.

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

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 Jetta 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 Jetta SE/R-Line/SEL/SEL Premium.

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

Model Availability

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

Recommendations

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

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

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