Audi A3 1.8T (1996 – 2003), infatigablement chic, dès 2 500 €

Apparue en 1996, l

We didn’t immediately understand the importance of the Audi A3, when it was launched at the end of 1996. In fact, the VW Golf III was selling very well and already benefited from a premium side as we didn’t say yet, so we wondered. what was the point of the Ingolstadt car. In fact, at the time, the A3 inaugurated the VW Group’s PQ34 platform, which would later equip the Golf IV and Seat León.

It’s crazy to think that the first Audi A3 came out 26 years ago: it doesn’t look its age. Was it that long ago, or have the builders been unimaginative ever since? Here, on your production line.

It is therefore more modern than its Wolfsburg cousin, much better drawn and benefits from a superior finish. It is not the first chic compact, since the Lancia Delta cleared the segment in 1979, but the Audi very skillfully renews the genre. For its seductive design first, due to the Belgian Dirk van Braeckel to whom we will later have the Bentley Continental GT. Then, due to its wide range of engines since its launch, including the famous TDi blocks in diesel, and in gasoline, the excellent 1.8 l appeared in 1983.

Modernized, it is finished off with a very original cylinder head with 5 valves per cylinder, something unique at this level of the range. Developing 125 hp in the atmosphere, it increases to 150 hp once boosted by a turbo. Not impressive power, but here the 1.8l turbo engine has been worked on for maximum flexibility. Thus, the maximum torque of 210 Nm is obtained at the very low speed of 1,750 rpm. As the car weighs only 1,145 kg, the performance is interesting: 217 km/h maximum, for a 0 to 100 km/h in 8.1 s. As standard, the 1.8T receives a 5-speed manual gearbox, with a 4-speed automatic being offered as an option.

The 1.8T engine of the Audi A3 already equips the A4 released two years earlier, in 1994. It is powerful and reliable, but a little sweet.
The 1.8T engine of the Audi A3 already equips the A4 released two years earlier, in 1994. It is powerful and reliable, but a little sweet.

The 150 hp is only available in a superior Ambiente finish, which includes ABS, of course, but also automatic air conditioning, alloy wheels, sports chassis and Alcantara upholstery. It is shown at F158,900, or €33,600 today. In 1997, the A3 1.8T was available in Ambition, a more luxurious variant with equipment enriched with leather upholstery, car radio, cruise control and even sports seats. At 181,700 F (currently €37,800 according to INSEE), it is expensive. And yet! The A3s are selling very well, so much so that a waiting list is forming. Subsequently, Audi will raise prices without this hampering commercial success.

In 1999, the Audi A3 was available in 5 doors: one wonders why this body did not appear earlier.
In 1999, the Audi A3 was available in 5 doors: one wonders why this body did not appear earlier.

In 1999 a 1.8T 180 hp 180 hp 6 boxes was offered, in traction or Quattro, and a 5-door body appeared. At the end of 2000, the A3 was slightly redesigned and its equipment progressed. In fact, ESP comes as standard, wood applications adorn the dashboard. The Ambition is also equipped with a parking aid and a 6-CD changer in the trunk. Also, a 5-speed Tiptronic automatic box replaces the old 4-speed unit. At the end of 2003, the first generation A3, code 8L, was withdrawn.

At the end of 2000, the Audi underwent a slight restyling, highlighting for example the new headlights.
At the end of 2000, the Audi underwent a slight restyling, highlighting for example the new headlights.

How much is it ?

An A3 1.8T in good condition can be found from €2,000, with more than 200,000 km. Better to add €500 to get a better copy, attached to 150,000 km. For €3,500 you can find a 180 hp with equivalent mileage, and adding another €1,000 you have a well-equipped Quattro at your disposal. A car with 60,000 km can claim €7,500 in perfect condition.

During the restyling, the central part of the taillights was dimmed.  Audi was right not to touch a successful design.
During the restyling, the central part of the taillights was dimmed. Audi was right not to touch a successful design.

Which version to choose?

There is none bad. One of 150 hp is more than enough given its already estimable benefits and its attractive price.

A well-equipped and unusual colored A3 1.8 T 180 Quattro is already a collector's item, in perfect original condition.
A well-equipped and unusual colored A3 1.8 T 180 Quattro is already a collector’s item, in perfect original condition.

collector’s versions

Any A3 8L with less than 50,000 km in perfect original condition and well equipped has already become a collector’s item. A fortiori in the 180 hp Quattro Ambition.

Inherently robust, the A3's 1.8T EA113 block still needs oil changes ideally every 10,000 km maximum, otherwise deposits can form in the crankcase and cause problems.
Inherently robust, the A3’s 1.8T EA113 block still needs oil changes ideally every 10,000 km maximum, otherwise deposits can form in the crankcase and cause problems.

What to monitor?

Extremely well built and equipped with a proven engine, the A3 1.8T is very reliable. Of course, it must have benefited from proper maintenance, including regular timing belt change, accompanied by regular engine oil changes but also the Haldex gearbox and differential of the Quattro versions.

With high mileage, we will change the small chain that synchronizes the two camshafts. Well managed, this underexploited block easily exceeds 300,000 km. The wheel bearings are not as durable, far from it, nor are the air conditioning and especially the ignition coils. And, after 200,000 km, the various sensors (injection, ABS, oil) regularly fail: annoying but not abnormal. In the cabin, over time, the headliner sags and the door panels warp.

Lastly, the bodywork is remarkably resistant to rust, but this eventually reaches the roof at the junction with the tailgate. Also beware of many copies modified to gain power: this has consequences on the life of the turbo and the transmission.

Dynamically, the A3 1.8T is initially reassuring and quick, rather than sprightly and dynamic.
Dynamically, the A3 1.8T is initially reassuring and quick, rather than sprightly and dynamic.

At the wheel

The interior design of the A3 has aged much better than that of contemporary compacts, and the driving position is impeccable. That said, we already feel cramped by the very high waist. Fortunately, the ergonomics are well thought out. As expected, the engine delights with its flexibility. But its smoothness is also appreciable, as well as its vigor, at least up to 5,000 rpm.

Surprisingly well finished, the A3 1.8T's cabin does age, but less quickly than its rivals.
Surprisingly well finished, the A3 1.8T’s cabin does age, but less quickly than its rivals.

Then the thrust dries up significantly in the 150hp, but we’re going fast already! The box, well placed, sometimes hooks but is still quite pleasant to drive, so the mechanical approval is obvious. The chassis? He gets the job done efficiently, but without any particular talent. Far from the agility of a Peugeot 306, the Audi A3 looks a bit clunky, firmly sprung and not very well damped.

However, it is shown to be extremely safe and of adequate precision. The comfort is more than enough, so that we benefit from a car that smells outdated but is still reassuring. On the consumption side, it has 8.0 l/100 km on a light foot and more than 10 l/100 km while you enjoy. A turbo from the 90s that…

The newtimer* alternative

Audi A3 2.0TFSI (2003-2011)

Appearing in 2003, the Audi A3 8P looks a lot like the 8L but benefits from a new platform adorned with a multi-link rear axle.
Appearing in 2003, the Audi A3 8P looks a lot like the 8L but benefits from a new platform adorned with a multi-link rear axle.

Replacing the A3 8L in 2003, the A3 8P benefits from a new platform (the PQ35), combined with a multi-link rear axle, which vastly improves road handling. In addition, it receives direct injection blocks, including the 2.0 l TFSI that offers about 200 hp (we will find it in the VW Golf V GTI) and allows remarkable performance (0 to 100 km/h in 6.8 s). It is combined with a manual gearbox of 6 or DSG, with double clutch, ultra fast. Redesigned in 2008, this generation of the A3 will remain on sale until 2012. From €5,000.

Audi A3 1.8T 150 (1997) specs

  • Engine: 4 cylinders in line, 1781 cc
  • Power: injection, turbo
  • Suspension: McPherson struts, coil springs, stabilizer bar (AV); torsion axle, coil springs, stabilizer bar (rear).
  • Transmission: 5 manual gearboxes (4 or 5 automatic), traction
  • Power: 150 hp at 5,700 rpm
  • Torque: 210Nm at 1,750rpm
  • Weight: 1145kg
  • Maximum speed: 217 km/h (manufacturer’s data)
  • 0 to 100 km/h: 8.1 seconds (manufacturer data)

> To find Audi A3 1.8T ads, go to the La Centrale website.

* Newtimers are iconic or sporty vehicles that are newer than youngtimers, but are increasing in value. More reliable and easier to use on a day-to-day basis, they owe their rise to technical features that have often disappeared, such as large naturally aspirated engines.

#Audi #1.8T #infatigablement #chic #dès

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *