2019 Volkswagen GTI vs. 2019 Audi A3 Sedan

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The GTI SE/Autobahn has standard Car-Net, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, 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 GTI and the A3 Sedan 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 crash mitigating brakes, 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 Volkswagen GTI is safer than the Audi A3 Sedan:

GTI

A3 Sedan

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

33%

45%

Neck Stress

352 lbs.

427 lbs.

Neck Compression

53 lbs.

143 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

108/102 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 post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Volkswagen GTI is safer than the Audi A3 Sedan:

GTI

A3 Sedan

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

247

333

Spine Acceleration

45 G’s

47 G’s

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

Warranty

The GTI comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The A3 Sedan’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 22000 miles sooner.

There are over 2 times as many Volkswagen dealers as there are Audi dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the GTI’s warranty.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Volkswagen vehicles are better in initial quality than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 24th in initial quality. With 2 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 25th.

Engine

The GTI’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 44 more horsepower (228 vs. 184) and 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 221) than the A3 Sedan 40 TSFI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Transmission

The GTI Automatic’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

The GTI SE/Autobahn’s 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 GTI stops much shorter than the A3 Sedan:

GTI

A3 Sedan

80 to 0 MPH

211 feet

219 feet

Road and Track

60 to 0 MPH

100 feet

121 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

The GTI’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the A3 Sedan’s standard 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the GTI has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the A3 Sedan.

Suspension and Handling

The GTI offers an available 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.

The GTI SE handles at .96 G’s, while the A3 Sedan Premium Quattro pulls only .87 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The GTI SE executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the A3 Sedan Premium Quattro (25.1 seconds @ .76 average G’s vs. 25.9 seconds @ .76 average G’s).

Chassis

The GTI is 7.5 inches shorter than the A3 Sedan, making the GTI easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver while at idle, the interior of the GTI SE is quieter than the A3 Sedan Premium Quattro (39 vs. 41 dB).

Passenger Space

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

The GTI has 7.5 cubic feet more passenger volume than the A3 Sedan (93.5 vs. 86).

The GTI has 1.9 inches more front headroom, 1.1 inches more front shoulder room, 2 inches more rear headroom, .5 inches more rear legroom and .9 inches more rear shoulder room than the A3 Sedan.

Servicing Ease

The GTI 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

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the GTI has a standard rear wiper. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a rear wiper.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the GTI Rabbit/SE/Autobahn has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer cornering lights.

Recommendations

The GTI was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 13 of the last 13 years. The A3 Sedan has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

Motor Trend selected the GTI as their 2015 Car of the Year. The A3 Sedan has never been chosen.

The GTI was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” for 5 of the last 12 years. The A3 Sedan has never been an “All Star.”

The GTI was selected by Automobile Magazine as their 2010 Car of the Year. The A3 Sedan has never been chosen.

The Volkswagen Golf/GTI outsold the Audi A3/S3 by over two to one during 2018.

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

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