Subscribe to the Free

2011 Audi A3 TDI Road Test

Driving Vs. Flying

Jason Thompson
Sep 1, 2011
Transportation and energy are two of the biggest topics in the news today. And, as it turns out, the key to a healthy economy and functioning society is directly connected to these important subjects. We’re going to assume that since you’re reading Diesel Power, you’re already one of those people who would rather drive somewhere than fly. This article is going to prove how smart you are. Follow along as we compare our road trip in an ’11 Audi A3 TDI to a recent flight we were subjected to.
Photo 2/14   |   driving Vs Flying audi A3 Front Three Quarter
The True Cost of Travel
The first consideration in times like these is always price. Our last- minute 4,898-mile drive from Los Angeles to Minnesota (and back) was actually less expensive than flying. At the time we were looking for flights, the airlines wanted about $700 per person (including luggage). So for two adults and a baby that’s $1,400. If we flew, we’d also have to rent a car for a few days, which would add another $300. The total fuel cost of driving an Audi A3 TDI was only $550. Driving straight through was an option, but $49 a night for a hotel room makes sense, especially with a baby.
Scenery and Freedom
The drive had much better scenery. We were able to stop and go where we wanted and take in this beautiful country of ours. In a plane, we could look out the window or stare at the stranger next to us. If we felt adventurous, we could ask two grumpy people to move and carefully walk to the bathroom (if it was unoccupied, the snack cart wasn’t in the way, and the seatbelt sign was turned off). With the Audi A3 TDI, we packed everything we needed, including: snacks, luggage, expensive camera equipment, a stroller, and a car seat. We also never got frisked or exposed to X-ray radiation. When we got to Colorado for the Diesel Power Challenge we were riding in style—instead of a neutered gasoline rental car.
Photo 3/14   |   The Audi A3 had by far the best and quietest windshield wipers we’ve ever used. There were six heated nozzles that splashed the entire windshield. They usually splashed more, but we were just about out of fluid when we took this photo because it was so fun to watch.
The only downside to a road trip is it takes a little longer than flying. That is, if you make your connecting flight and don’t get stuck in Detroit overnight and just about miss your 9:30 a.m. meeting the next day in Charlotte. Our fly-to-drive ratio at Diesel Power is about 5:1 (we’d rather drive 5 hours than fly 1 hour)—especially when the car is as nice as the Audi A3.
Trip Log
Starting Point:
El Segundo, California
0 miles
Fuel: Full tank
Stop 1: Glendale, Nevada
Miles: 404
Fuel: 11 gallons at $4.22=$46.52
Fuel economy: 36.7 mpg (Lots of stop-and-go traffic in the heat—80 mph when possible)
Stop 2: Park City, Utah
Miles: 799
Fuel: 10 gallons at $4.19=$42.00
Fuel economy: 39.5 mpg (No traffic on the highway, 80 mph, and cool outside temperature)
Stop 3: Casper, Wyoming
Miles: 1,223
Fuel: 10 gallons at $4.13=$41.39
Fuel economy: 42.4 mpg (No traffic on the highway, 80 mph, and warm outside)
Stop 4: Reliance, South Dakota
Miles: 1,674
Fuel: 11.91 gallons at $4.24=$50.64
Fuel economy: 37.86 mpg (No traffic, speeds sometimes in excess of 80 mph)
Stop 5: Albert Lea, Minnesota
Miles 2,097
Fuel: 11.75 gallons at $4.17=$49.00
Fuel economy: 36.0 mpg (No traffic, speeds sometimes in excess of 80 mph)
Stop 6: Des Moines, Iowa
Miles 2,442
Fuel: 10.42 gallons at $4.17=$43.55
Fuel economy: 33 mpg (Stop-and-go driving, lots of idling, and cool outside)
Stop 7: Hershey, Nebraska
Miles 2,865
Fuel: 11.7 gallons at $4.09=$47.97
Fuel economy: 36.1 mpg (Light traffic and high speeds on the highway)
Stop 8: Wheatridge, Colorado
Miles 3,239
Fuel: 10.9 gallons at $3.89=$42.40
Fuel economy: 34.3 mpg (Light traffic and high speeds on the highway)
Stop 9: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Miles 3,635
Fuel: 12.37 gallons at $4.19=$51.96
Fuel economy: 32.0 mpg (A3 was used at the Diesel Power Challenge, lots of idling and power displays)
Stop 10: Flagstaff, Arizona
Miles 4,018 Fuel: 11.43 gallons at $4.18=$48.88
Fuel economy: 33.0 mpg (Mix of highway and city driving)
Stop 11: Ludlow, California
Miles: 4,518
Fuel: 11.43 gallons at $4.89=$56.01
Fuel economy: 43 mpg (60-to-70-mph highway driving)
Stop 12: Calabasas, California
Miles: 4,828
Fuel: 6.32 gallons at $4.59=$29.11
Fuel economy: 49 mpg (55-to-65-mph highway driving)
Stop 13: El Segundo, California
Total Miles: 4,898
Total fuel: 129.23 gallons
Fuel economy: 37.0 mpg
Total fuel cost: $549.43
The six-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission combines the ease and control of an automatic with the performance and direct-drive efficiency of a manual. According to Audi, the S tronic is available in four different versions, with six or seven speeds. This transmission is really two units in one. Two multi-plate dry clutches control the gears. The large K1 clutch located on the outside directs the torque via a solid shaft to the gear wheels for the odd-numbered gears: First, Third, Fifth, and in some cases, Seventh. A hollow shaft rotates around the solid shaft. It is connected to the smaller K2 clutch integrated in the inside of the K1 and controls the even gears: Second, Fourth, and Sixth. Only one clutch is connected at a time, but the next gear is always ready to go. All that’s needed is to engage the clutch and disengage the one it’s on—this happens extremely fast and is almost unnoticeable. The S tronic transmission weighs only 154 pounds and can be combined with the Audi start-stop system. It can handle 405 lb-ft of torque and can spin to 9,000 rpm. When we raced the Audi TDIs in Virginia (see “Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup,” March ’10) racers were getting the same times as the manual transmissions. Gear changes can be selected manually with the paddle shifter or stick shifter, but the computer is so good, we left the transmission in automatic mode most of the time.
Photo 10/14   |   driving Vs Flying dual Clutch Transmission Cutaway
A. Tumble flaps are located inside the 2.0L’s intake manifold and are partially closed at low engine speeds to enhance the air-fuel mixing. As engine speeds increase, they eventually fully open.
B. In order to sell a diesel in the United States, Volkswagen and Audi had to pass the toughest emissions standard in the world—Tier 2 Bin 5. To reach this goal, a BorgWarner turbocharger was selected because of its nano-coated compressor wheel and housing, which allows the turbo to survive the high temperatures and exhaust acidity that comes with low-pressure exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). Low-pressure EGR and high-pressure EGR (used on current vehicles) keeps cylinder temperatures down and therefore limits NOx production. Traditional EGR setups never run exhaust gas through the turbo, but this new setup does. It takes clean air from after the diesel particulate filter (DPF), cools it, and then routes it upstream of the compressor.
C. Bosch Piezo injectors and the common-rail fuel system produce up to 30,000 psi. The injectors can squirt small amounts of fuel less than one thousandth of a gram. They are also incredibly fast, with multiple openings and closings per engine stroke—measured in the thousandths of a second.
D. The glow plugs double as in-cylinder pressure sensors—this is like a pilot flying with his instruments.
Photo 11/14   |   driving Vs Flying tdi Diesel
2011 Audi A3
Engine: 2.0L TDI
Type: Inline four-cylinder, transverse mounted, two balance shafts
Bore: 3.19 inches
Stroke: 3.76 inches
Displacement: 2.0L (120.1 cubic inches)
Compression ratio: 16.5:1
Valvetrain: Dual overhead cam (DOHC), four valves per cylinder
Turbocharger: Single BorgWarner with variable-turbine geometry (VTG)
Horsepower: 140 hp at 4,200 rpm
Torque: 236 lb-ft at 1,750 rpm
0 to 60 mph: 8.9 seconds (according to Audi)
Top speed: 130 mph (according to Audi)
Engine oil: 4.2 quarts (4 liters)
Fuel tank capacity: 14.6 gallons (55 liters)
Brakes: Front 12.2-inch-diameter ventilated rotors, and rear 11-inch-diameter solid rotors
Cooling system: 9.2 quarts (8.7 liters)
Turning radius: 35.1 feet
Transmission: Six-speed S tronic with front-wheel drive
Curb weight: 3,318 pounds (fully loaded with people and gear: 2,340 pounds front and 1,660 pounds in the rear equals 4,000 pounds)
Range: 438 to 613 miles
EPA fuel economy: 30 to 42 mpg
Battery: 12 volt (80 amp/hr)
Alternator: 14 volts (140 amp)


Audi Of North America



Subscribe Today and Save up to 83%!

Subscribe Truck Trend Magazine

Subscribe to:

Truck Trend

Subscribe Diesel Power Magazine

Subscribe to:

Diesel Power

Subscribe Truckin Magazine

Subscribe to: