It’s amazing how much a car can change in 20 years. Of course, this will depend on how much the manufacturer is willing to invest in the evolution and improvement of the product over time.
There are models, like the VW Gol, for example, that have stagnated for years, and have changed very little in terms of design and technology. The practical result of this policy is that the public is less interested in buying a model that is outdated or has not changed over time.
Now let’s go to another extreme model: Audi A3. Launched in the domestic market at the beginning of 1997, the entry-level model of the four-wheel drive shared the mechanical basis with the VW Golf, a car respected worldwide for bringing together many of the features that the consumer was looking for in a car of that segment.
In the Brazilian market, the A3 was originally imported from Germany, but in 1999 it became national, manufactured at the VW/Audi plant in São José dos Pinhais, PR, in the capital region of Curituba. From there, not by chance, Golf also came out. As both shared many features, the factory shared between the two manufacturers – Audi belongs to the Volkswagen Group – worked very well.
Well then. It was one of those Audi A3s that we found in a very rare condition of good preservation, with more than 48 thousand original kilometers, in 2002, in its basic version (manual transmission, with cloth seats and without sunroof), which we put next. for the all-new 2022 A3 Sportback, presented by Audi itself. The goal? Have a complete idea of how much fashion has improved, and how much has been invested in it in these twenty years. Interesting!
The 2002 car was the first generation of the A3, still beautiful and attractive today. In terms of mechanics, he could use a unique 1.8 engine with five valves per cylinder (three inlets and two exhausts), a technology that until then was unique, usually found in Formula 1 cars. With four cylinders, it reached the valve 20, with two overhead camshafts; which was a creative construction.
In the basic version of this 2002 comparison model, it made 125 hp at 6,000 rpm and 17.3 m·kgf at 4200 rpm At that time, Audi even sold two levels of turbo versions of this engine, one with 150 hp. another with 180 hp for more luxurious versions. The base was always the same: the 1.8 20V engine.
In delivery, in 2002, the A3 can have a 5-speed gearbox, similar to the Golf and installed in the car in the photo, making a durable, powerful set that can take the model to 2002 km / h and reach. 100 km/h from standstill in 9.7 seconds. For those looking for greater comfort, Audi also offered a four-speed automatic Tiptronic gearbox with manual changes and buttons on the steering wheel, it was also shared with VW in the middle and similar to the competition at the time.
The Golf also came with four-wheel suspension and power-assisted steering. Speaking of suspension, this was even one of the controversies in the second nationalization of the A3, in 2015, when it replaced the multi-link rear suspension with a traditional torsion axle, aiming to simplify and reduce production and maintenance costs.
Despite the criticism of my colleagues at the time, I always argued that the national A3 2015, although simpler, remained stable and powerfully refined, as well as facilitated maintenance by bringing a simpler and more stable system. does not require synchronization. It was an interesting loss.
But going back to the 2002 car, at the time, it was known and respected for its excellent performance, superior stability and improved handling compared to its brother Golf. Of course, it was an Audi and not a Volkswagen, so it also had advantages in built-in technology and safety, for example. It had disc brakes on all four wheels, optional side airbags (the most equipped on the car compared here), and even electronic stability control as an option.
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In terms of comfort, some modern features of the time are worth mentioning: digital climate, premium sound system, on-board computer color, leather seats, possibility of photochromic interior glass and sunroof, xenon lights, and much more. It was, at that time, a very complete, refined and elegant car.
In the medium size car, the first generation A3 was 4.15 m long, 1.73 m wide, 1.42 m long and 2.51 m in wheelbase. Other figures, such as 350 liters of trunk capacity, 55 liters of fuel tank and 1,160 kg of weight in running order made a good combination.
2022: 20 years later
Three generations later, here is the A3 hatch again, but under the name Sportback and 20 years later it appeared. The second generation came in 2006, and the third in 2013. The newest model, launched in Europe in 2020 and re-imported from Germany, shows higher numbers compared to the car of two decades ago, and not less, after that. it all makes for a more sophisticated and completely different set of mechanics.
Let me explain: its 204 hp and 32.6 m·kgf turbocharged 2-liter engine with direct injection and double differential control is connected to a seven-speed robotic gearbox with great agility, quick changes and silent operation . This engine, in fact the EA-888 designed by VW, has several cards up its sleeve, such as switching to the Atkinson cycle when needed, which guarantees the famous 1-L consumption figures and very low emissions.
In practice, the A3 Sportback of 2022 accelerates from 0 to 100 km / h in 7.4 seconds and reaches 241 km / h, with a power-to-weight ratio of only 7.2 kg / hp. It also reaches an average of around 20 km / l of gasoline in road use, thanks to technologies that did not exist for two decades. It’s lovely.
There are also changes in the platform: the A3 2002 was PQ34, the same as the VW Golf, but now, 2022, it brings the common base of the MQB Evo, a kind of “renovation version” of the VW MQB used by the last Golf sold in Brazil. Audi and VW are related, but to a higher degree and, of course, a little further. In addition, the 2022 model changed, again, the rear axle from torsion to multi-arm, and has electric power steering, large disc brakes on all four wheels and so on.
Technologically speaking, the A3 has changed a lot in the last 20 years, but in reality, it retains many of the good things of the 2002, only improved. The same can be said about the level of finishing, which was also improved during this period, or the level of safety, increased significantly with the current construction in hot metal marked high against impact.
Digital weather, for example, now has two temperature zones; the rear glass, which was already photochromic, got a shapeless design; the roof of the sun grew; the wheels, which were 15” silver, are now 18” and are diamond coated; the multifunctional radio gave way to 10″ tactile multimedia; the premium sound system is now signed by Bang&Olufsen; the lights, from xenon to LED; the instrument panel, which had only a color screen, is now completely digital; from four inflatable bags in 2002, now he has seven; and so on.
But what about size? The A3 has grown a lot, and is bigger in all directions (and therefore heavier): today it is 4.34 m long, 1.82 m wide, equal to 1.43 m long (which explains the greater aerodynamic coefficient (Cx) since the first generation , which dropped from 0.32 to 0.29 in the modern car), and found a lot in the wheelbase, going to 2.64 m and reflecting directly on the large space of the interior. It also increased in the trunk (from 350 to 380 liters), but lost 5 liters in tank capacity. Another car.
Price, twenty years later
For those wondering about values, the Audi A3 has improved, but it has also become more expensive over the past two decades. It is difficult to compare the market then and now, but we will base it here based on their prices converted to dollars.
A silver car, 2002, cost 0-km as the value of 22 thousand dollars at that time, which, converted to the current price would be around 115,000 reais. Today, its closest equivalent, speaking of values, would be the VW Nivus, a crossover based on the Polo.
On the other hand, the New A3 Sportback 2022, bigger, more modern, powerful, refined and technological, officially costs from R $ 264,000, which gives almost 53 thousand dollars. If we remember that the 2002 car in the picture is a national, manufactured Paraná, and the 2022 imported from Ingolstadt, Germany.
It is clear that in these 20 years Audi has invested a lot in its entry-level model, and therefore we have a car that combines safety, low consumption, good handling and high technology. But the consumer, of course, pays for this investment. This is the law of the market.