2020 Kia Optima vs. 2019 Audi A3 Sedan

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/10/16

The Optima has standard Active Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Optima’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 Optima EX/SX has standard 911 Connect, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to 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 Optima and the A3 Sedan have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee 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, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Kia Optima is safer than the Audi A3 Sedan:

Optima

A3 Sedan

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

185

217

Neck Injury Risk

22%

45%

Neck Stress

218 lbs.

427 lbs.

Neck Compression

55 lbs.

143 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

114/300 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 Kia Optima is safer than the Audi A3 Sedan:

Optima

A3 Sedan

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

111

172

Chest Movement

.8 inches

1.1 inches

Abdominal Force

178 G’s

219 G’s

Hip Force

306 lbs.

308 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

196

333

Spine Acceleration

37 G’s

47 G’s

Hip Force

585 lbs.

666 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 and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Optima its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 46 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The A3 Sedan is only a standard “Top Pick” for 2019.

Warranty

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The Optima comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The A3 Sedan’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 10,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Optima 6 years and 50,000 miles longer than Audi covers the A3 Sedan. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the A3 Sedan ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are almost 3 times as many Kia dealers as there are Audi dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Optima’s warranty.

Reliability

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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 Optima’s reliability 25 points higher than the A3 Sedan.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Optima third among midsize cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The A3 Sedan isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Kia vehicles are better in initial quality than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 36 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 22nd, below the industry average.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Audi vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 2 places higher in reliability than Audi.

Engine

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The Optima SX’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 17 more horsepower (245 vs. 228) and 2 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 258) than the A3 Sedan 45 TFSI’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the Optima EX gets better fuel mileage than the A3 Sedan 40 TFSI SMG (27 city/37 hwy vs. 26 city/35 hwy).

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Kia Optima uses regular unleaded gasoline. The A3 Sedan 45 TFSI requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Optima has 5.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the A3 Sedan 40 TFSI’s standard fuel tank (18.5 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Optima has 4 gallons more fuel capacity than the A3 Sedan 45 TFSI Quattro’s standard fuel tank (18.5 vs. 14.5 gallons).

Brakes and Stopping

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The Optima stops shorter than the A3 Sedan:

Optima

A3 Sedan

60 to 0 MPH

118 feet

121 feet

Motor Trend

Suspension and Handling

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For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Optima’s wheelbase is 6.6 inches longer than on the A3 Sedan (110.4 inches vs. 103.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Optima is 2 inches wider in the front and 3.4 inches wider in the rear than the track on the A3 Sedan.

Chassis

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The design of the Kia Optima amounts to more than styling. The Optima has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .27 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 Optima get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

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

The Optima has 18.8 cubic feet more passenger volume than the A3 Sedan (104.8 vs. 86).

The Optima has 3.3 inches more front headroom, 4.3 inches more front legroom, 3.3 inches more front shoulder room, 1.7 inches more rear headroom, .5 inches more rear legroom and 3.4 inches more rear shoulder room than the A3 Sedan.

Cargo Capacity

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The Optima has a much larger trunk than the A3 Sedan (15.9 vs. 12.3 cubic feet).

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Optima S/EX/SX’s trunk can be opened just by waiting momentarily behind the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

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The Optima 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

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The Optima offers a 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 A3 Sedan doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

When two different drivers share the Optima EX Premium/SX, 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 Optima’s optional 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.

The Optima’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The A3 Sedan’s cruise control switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

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 Optima’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the A3 Sedan’s headlights are rated “Acceptable” to “Poor.”

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Optima SX 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.

When the Optima EX/SX 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.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the Optima EX Premium/SX 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 Optima EX Premium/SX’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

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Insurance will cost less for the Optima owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Optima will cost $380 less than the A3 Sedan over a five-year period.

The Optima will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Optima will retain 39.17% to 40.49% of its original price after five years, while the A3 Sedan only retains 36.82% to 38.8%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Optima is less expensive to operate than the A3 Sedan because it costs $518 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Optima than the A3 Sedan, including $310 less for a water pump, $293 less for a muffler, $28 less for front brake pads, $344 less for a starter, $105 less for fuel injection, $44 less for a fuel pump, $303 less for front struts and $443 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Kia Optima will be $8503 to $13964 less than for the Audi A3 Sedan.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/10/16

Consumer Reports® recommends the Kia Optima, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Kia Optima outsold the Audi A3/S3 by almost six to one during 2018.

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

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