2000 Audi A3 Turbo Sport 1.8T 20v turbo
Great car, a bargain, and fairly quick
Front strut support failed.
Routine brake pad replacement.
Battery died of old age and was replaced.
Performance: The performance is more than adequate. The 1.8T is fairly quiet and makes for easy overtaking. This is not a fast car, but it's a very quick one. With chip-tuning, this changes, it borders on fast and overtaking is effortless even at triple digit speeds.
Handling: Handling is reasonable, there is a fair amount of grip available, but the car under-steers, even more so when under power with the chip. Not a perfect handler, but more than adequate for the city.
Brakes: Very good brake feel, progressive, little fade, even at the track. ABS works like a charm.
Ride: The car rides well on stock wheels and tires, but not perfectly. As far as small family cars go, the first generation A3 is miles behind the 2nd generation A3, and it's not quite up to the standard of newer designs like the 307, Megane II, 2nd Gen Focus. It's about on par with the Alfa 147, which is a car that I cross shopped when buying. BMW 120d rides better.
Cabin Comfort/Utility: This is a 4 door, the rear seats are very comfortable, but legroom is a joke. Makes a great family car until the little ones grow up. The rear hatch is great, makes loading the car really easy, and with the seats down you can fit a mountain-bike easily. It's a very useful size and shape - for me, it's just big enough and never too big. The front seats are comfortable over long trips. They are firm, which is a good thing over distance. The radio sounds great, works well, over all the cabin is a very attractive place to be. Basically a 9/10 for the price. It's luxurious where it counts, quiet, ergonomic, and spacious. It'd be a 10/10 if there was a little more room in back.
Exterior: I love the way the car looks from the outside and everybody else does too. 10/10, Audi did a great job bringing prestige to the family-hatch segment. This car sold very well in Chile, and there's a good reason for that - it's nice.
Reliability: I have had few minor problems, the front strut support failure is due to the poor roads here in Chile. Other than that, the car has been 100% reliable, nothing unexpected, the battery was replaced and I have new brakes (lots of stop and go traffic in Santiago). My car was assembled in Brazil, if that makes any difference.
Service: Audi is very, very comprehensive, the prices are reasonable and not much more than VW or Peugeot (and less than Subaru and Honda, surprisingly). The Audi dealer treats all of their customers with a good level of respect, whether you are dropping of an A8 or an A3. Definitely this has been one of the nicest parts of an overall excellent ownership experience.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 17th May, 2006
I am the original poster, checking in to update the status of my A3.
I made it to 83,000 Kms without any major repairs. The clutch was replaced at approx 75,000 but this is due to the Chip-tuning. Aside from that the only non wear item was the front window switch, which failed and would not permit the rear windows to lower.
Recently I was hit by a drunk driver, lost control of the car, and crashed into a concrete wall at approximately 40 km/h. I suffered a bruised rib and some minor bruising on my knees. The passenger suffered somewhat worse bruising on her knees. I can safely say that the car performs "as advertised" in a crash and seems to be quite a safe vehicle.
Alas, the car was totalled. Now, shopping for a new vehicle, I am cross shopping everything with A3s of this generation. The car offers a unique combination of performance, urban utility, highway capability, economy, and style. The new A3 is not comparable, only 3 models are sold in Chile, the 1.6 non-fsi is gutless, the 2.0 FSI is no match for the old 1.8T 20v, and the 2.0 TFSI is excellent but horribly overpriced (IE for the money, I'd much rather have a lightly used BMW 130i or even a mk 1 Audi TT). So another A3 1.8T seems likely.
On the other hand, I may move to a different marque and vehicle, as I don't want to relive the past and get caught up in Audi nostalgia.