2019 Lexus IS Series vs. 2019 Audi A3 Sedan

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The IS Series has standard Safety Connect®, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the IS Series and the A3 Sedan have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee 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 all wheel drive, 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 Lexus IS Series is safer than the Audi A3 Sedan:

 

IS Series

A3 Sedan

 

Driver

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

36%

45%

Neck Stress

339 lbs.

427 lbs.

Neck Compression

47 lbs.

143 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

271/602 lbs.

461/426 lbs.

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 Lexus IS Series is safer than the Audi A3 Sedan:

 

IS Series

A3 Sedan

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

99

172

Chest Movement

.9 inches

1.1 inches

Abdominal Force

193 G’s

219 G’s

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

89

277

Spine Acceleration

33 G’s

56 G’s

Hip Force

691 lbs.

777 lbs.

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

295

333

Spine Acceleration

39 G’s

47 G’s

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

Lexus’ powertrain warranty covers the IS Series 2 years and 20,000 miles longer than Audi covers the A3 Sedan. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the A3 Sedan ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

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 IS Series’ reliability 12 points higher than the A3 Sedan.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are better in initial quality than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus 8th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 21 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 25th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus first in reliability, above the industry average. With 42 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 13th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Audi vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. Audi is ranked 7th.

Engine

The IS Series has more powerful engines than the A3 Sedan:

 

Horsepower

Torque

IS 300 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

241 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

IS 300 AWD 3.5 DOHC V6

260 HP

236 lbs.-ft.

IS 350 3.5 DOHC V6

311 HP

280 lbs.-ft.

A3 Sedan 40 TSFI 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

184 HP

221 lbs.-ft.

A3 Sedan 45 TSFI 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

228 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Motor Trend the IS 350 is faster than the A3 Sedan 45 TSFI:

 

IS Series

A3 Sedan

Zero to 60 MPH

5.3 sec

5.6 sec

Quarter Mile

13.9 sec

14.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

99.4 MPH

98.3 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

The IS Series has 4.2 gallons more fuel capacity than the A3 Sedan 40 TSFI’s standard fuel tank (17.4 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The IS Series has 2.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the A3 Sedan 45 TFSI Quattro’s standard fuel tank (17.4 vs. 14.5 gallons).

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Lexus IS Series, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the A3 Sedan.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the IS Series’ brake rotors are larger than those on the A3 Sedan:

 

IS Series

A3 Sedan

Front Rotors

13.1 inches

12.3 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

10.7 inches

The IS Series’ standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the A3 Sedan are solid, not vented.

The IS Series stops much shorter than the A3 Sedan:

 

IS Series

A3 Sedan

 

60 to 0 MPH

111 feet

121 feet

Motor Trend

Suspension and Handling

The IS Series offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The A3 Sedan’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the IS Series’ wheelbase is 6.4 inches longer than on the A3 Sedan (110.2 inches vs. 103.8 inches).

The IS Series’ front to rear weight distribution is more even (53% to 47%) than the A3 Sedan’s (58.1% to 41.9%). This gives the IS Series more stable handling and braking.

The IS Series AWD handles at .89 G’s, while the A3 Sedan Premium Quattro pulls only .87 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the IS Series’ turning circle is 1.9 feet tighter than the A3 Sedan’s (34.2 feet vs. 36.1 feet). The IS Series AWD’s turning circle is .7 feet tighter than the A3 Sedan’s (35.4 feet vs. 36.1 feet).

Chassis

The design of the Lexus IS Series amounts to more than styling. The IS Series has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .28 Cd. That is significantly lower than the A3 Sedan (.32) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the IS Series get better fuel mileage.

The IS Series 300 RWD offers available computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

As tested by Car and Driver while cruising at 70 MPH, the interior of the IS 350 F Sport is quieter than the A3 Sedan Premium Quattro (65 vs. 67 dB).

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the IS Series a Compact car, while the A3 Sedan is rated a Subcompact.

The IS Series has 4.2 cubic feet more passenger volume than the A3 Sedan (90.2 vs. 86).

The IS Series has 1.7 inches more front headroom, 3.6 inches more front legroom, 1.1 inches more front shoulder room, .8 inches more rear headroom and .4 inches more rear shoulder room than the A3 Sedan.

Cargo Capacity

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the IS Series offers cargo security. The A3 Sedan’s non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat cargo security.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the IS Series is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the A3 Sedan. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

The IS Series has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The A3 Sedan doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

Ergonomics

The IS Series has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

When three different drivers share the IS Series, the optional memory system makes it convenient for all three. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat (memory seat optional for the front passenger), steering wheel position and outside mirror angle. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a memory system.

The IS Series’ optional easy entry system raises the steering wheel when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

Smart Access standard on the IS Series allows you to unlock the driver’s door, trunk and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Audi A3 Sedan’s available Audi Advanced Key doesn’t unlock the trunk.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the IS Series offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer cornering lights.

A power rear sunshade is optional in the IS Series to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

When the IS Series with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The A3 Sedan’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the IS Series keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the IS Series’ optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

Economic Advantages

The IS Series will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the IS Series will retain 47.56% to 50.51% of its original price after five years, while the A3 Sedan only retains 47% to 47.42%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the IS Series is less expensive to operate than the A3 Sedan because it costs $621 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the IS Series than the A3 Sedan, including $8 less for a water pump, $154 less for a muffler, $35 less for front brake pads and $117 less for front struts.

Recommendations

The Lexus IS Series outsold the Audi A3/S3 by 25% during 2018.

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

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