2019 Nissan Altima vs. 2019 Audi A3 Sedan

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Altima are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Altima SV/SL/Platinum has standard Rear Automatic Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Altima Platinum has a standard Around View Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The A3 Sedan only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

The Altima’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

The Altima has standard NissanConnect, 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 Altima 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, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

Nissan’s powertrain warranty covers the Altima 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Audi covers the A3 Sedan. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the A3 Sedan ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are almost 4 times as many Nissan dealers as there are Audi dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Altima’s warranty.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Nissan vehicles are better in initial quality than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 10th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 20 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 25th, below the industry average.

Engine

The Altima’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 4 more horsepower (188 vs. 184) than the A3 Sedan 40 TSFI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The Altima’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 20 more horsepower (248 vs. 228) and 15 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 258) than the A3 Sedan 45 TSFI’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

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

MPG

Altima

FWD

S/SV/SL 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

28 city/39 hwy

SR/Platinum 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

27 city/37 hwy

2.0 VC turbo 4 cyl.

25 city/34 hwy

AWD

S/SV/SL 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

26 city/36 hwy

SR/Platinum 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

25 city/35 hwy

A3 Sedan

FWD

40 TSFI 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

26 city/35 hwy

AWD

45 TSFI 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Altima’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 A3 Sedan doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Altima has 3 gallons more fuel capacity than the A3 Sedan 40 TSFI’s standard fuel tank (16.2 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Altima has 1.7 gallons more fuel capacity than the A3 Sedan 45 TFSI Quattro’s standard fuel tank (16.2 vs. 14.5 gallons).

Transmission

The Altima has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

The Altima stops shorter than the A3 Sedan:

Altima

A3 Sedan

60 to 0 MPH

118 feet

121 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

The Altima has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Altima’s wheelbase is 7.4 inches longer than on the A3 Sedan (111.2 inches vs. 103.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Altima is 2 inches wider in the front and 3.1 inches wider in the rear than the track on the A3 Sedan.

The Altima SR 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.

Chassis

The design of the Nissan Altima amounts to more than styling. The Altima has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .26 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 Altima get better fuel mileage.

The front grille of the Altima uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Altima SL/Platinum uses 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 at idle, the interior of the Altima Platinum is quieter than the A3 Sedan Premium Quattro (40 vs. 41 dB).

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Altima a Mid-size car, while the A3 Sedan is rated a Subcompact.

The Altima has 14.8 cubic feet more passenger volume than the A3 Sedan (100.8 vs. 86).

The Altima has 2.7 inches more front headroom, 2.6 inches more front legroom, 3.4 inches more front shoulder room, .8 inches more rear headroom, .1 inches more rear legroom and 4.1 inches more rear shoulder room than the A3 Sedan.

Cargo Capacity

The Altima has a much larger trunk than the A3 Sedan (15.4 vs. 12.3 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

The Altima 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 two different drivers share the Altima Platinum, the memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and outside mirror angle. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a memory system.

The Altima Platinum’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back 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.

Intelligent Key standard on the Altima 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.

On extremely cold winter days, the Altima SV/SL/Platinum’s standard 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

Insurance will cost less for the Altima owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Altima will cost $605 less than the A3 Sedan over a five-year period.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Nissan Altima will be $4066 to $7558 less than for the Audi A3 Sedan.

Recommendations

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

The Nissan Altima outsold the Audi A3/S3 by over 11 to one during 2018.

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

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