Opinion – Eduardo Sodré: Audi A3 completes 25 years of sales in Brazil and returns imported

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Opinion – Eduardo Sodré: Audi A3 completes 25 years of sales in Brazil and returns imported

Brazil was experiencing the ups and downs of vehicle imports when, in October 1996, the Audi A3 was presented at the São Paulo Auto Show. Up to date with the European market, the medium luxury hatch debuted amid the expectation of national production, which began in 1999.

After 25 years, the model returns to Brazil in its fourth generation, and back to its origins. It is again an imported model, although the manufacturer maintains its facilities in Brazil, within the VW group complex in São José dos Pinhais (PR).

“The manufacturing of the A3 Sedan was completed in December 2020, this was already foreseen within the normal life schedule of the product. We did all the necessary studies on our side to bring a new model to our production line, but there is still no confirmation,” says the automaker, in a note.

The resumption of domestic manufacturing is linked to the reversal of IPI (Tax on Industrialized Products) credits accumulated during the years of Inovar-Auto. According to Audi, the values ​​were not fully returned.

While the unit in Paraná remains at a standstill, the German brand does what it can to bring cars to Brazil amidst problems with parts. This is one of the challenges for the assembly of the A3, which took a technological leap and, as a result, needs more of the scarce semiconductors.

It is also the reason why the car arrives in Brazil without some items that are already common in its category, such as the autonomous braking system available in Europe.

The development of the new generation started in 2016. The car that arrives in Brazil has high-resolution digital panels – the screen of the multimedia center has 10.1 inches.

Previously rounded, the air conditioning system outlets now have grilles built into the panel. There are also decorative seams that refer to more expensive cars, as well as rubberized surfaces and upholstery that imitate leather.

The steering wheel, however, is little different from the one offered in the last national A3. Despite the evolution, the fourth generation maintains the MQB platform and its qualities, but also some negative points for those who expect a lot from an Audi car.

The model, although delivering a commendable finish, does not have the same soundproofing as the brand’s more expensive models, for example. But in what it proposes to be –a medium car with a sporting vocation–, the A3 is one of the best.

The version evaluated in a first test had a sedan body and a 2.0 turbo gasoline engine (190 hp) combined with a dual-clutch automatic gearbox and seven speeds. The gearshift is activated through a small selector on the center console, and there are shift knobs on the steering wheel.

The price is the same as that charged for the hatch option: R$ 265,000. 20 years ago, when the A3 1.8 turbo national reached 180 hp and won a red “T” to differentiate it from the others, the car cost around R$ 60 thousand and the dollar was in the range of R$ 2.60.

Current power and torque are enough to make the A3 2.0 reach 100 km/h in just under eight seconds without wasting too much fuel. The data will soon be checked by the Instituto Mauá de Tecnologia.

In the evaluation of the Castelo Branco highway in São Paulo on a day of rain and heavy traffic, little was noticed about the performance, but much more about the amenities on board.

Bang&Olufsen sound treats the ears well and the driver’s seat with electrical adjustments provides optimal position behind the wheel. It’s just not so nice in the back seat, with little legroom.

The sedan version has a trunk with a capacity of 425 liters, enough space for two medium-sized suitcases and another two or three backpacks.

In addition to the 2.0 option, Audi brings the A3 with a 1.4 turbo engine (150 hp) and the new eight-speed automatic transmission provided by the Japanese Aisin. The price starts at R$ 230 thousand.

Prices and car shortages will limit sales, and consumer tastes in this price range have shifted to SUVs. The new A3 will be rare on the streets, something different from what happened with the odd generations, both produced in Brazil.

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