A local buddy (GunKata) moved from a MKVI GTI 6MT to an '11 A3 DSG/quattro.. which he promptly installed coilovers, BBK, S3 IC, BB DP, K04, and more.
IIRC the A3 is heavier. it's bigger, and less sporty.
Man's first frown is the first touch of God on his forehead. The touch of thought. -Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead
2011 GTI / 2008 Touareg 2 / 2007 MKV Jetta Wolfsburg, 5MT / 2003 Passat V6 5MT / 1989 Volvo 240DL
same place you were a couple months ago, it was between the A3, WRX, and GTI. went with the GTI since i needed the best mpg and back leg room.
I notice that the A3 was significantly a lot less leg room in the back and getting in and out is not as comfortable as the GTI and also since you are comparing the 30k models of each car, which is the top end of the GTI (leather seats) I feel that the GTI leather is much better quality wise.
But both are great cars, when i drove the a3 2012 model it had a very comfortable ride and was very classy too. But didnt give that excitement of the GTI for sure.
Hence I went with the 2012 GTI and have no regrets. Put some coilovers on it and it became 10x better.
No, I cant go lower. you see that right there? thats called Manhattan.
No, I dont want to race your 98 Honda civic.
VW DA NUMBA WONZZZ
The MkVI is outdated, now that the MKVII has gone into production - but the A3 is truly outdated (think MkV).
For sportiness, there is no comparison (quattro A3 is much heavier, and the suspension is not tuned as sporty as that of the MkVI GTI).
Aung San Suu Kyi
We have both a 2011 A3 TDI and a 2011 GTI. Although my wife loves her A3, I have to say, I think the GTI is a better value, esp. with Autobahn. We skipped the $2k extra for the Nav/Radio upgrade in the A3, which we kind of regret -- no ipod integration without it.
Also, you can't get the tracking headlights or keyless/pushbutton. And, the MFD in the GTI is much better than the A3s, as is the steering wheel and the voice command.
Funny, we used to think the A3 was quieter than the GTI, until I disconnected that idiotic Soundaktor. Now the two cars are equally quiet.
I think the only way I would consider an A3 for myself is if I was desperate to get quattro. And even then, I would probably go for the R instead.
2011 GTI / Autobahn / 4DR / 6MT
APR Stage 1 Tune / Carbonio CAI
Financially, it makes little to no sense to buy the A3 over the GTI. You're essentially paying a new car price for a used car, because they are so close to eachother mechanically. Same engine, same frame, same gear box, and in many situations same bolts and switch gear. You never know what the previous owner did to it either. Take my '07 GTI that I bought as a VW CPO in 2010 w/ 40k on the clock. 7 months later, a mysterious carfax blemish of a "very minor damage" report showed up from the previous owner, that wasn't there when I bought it. Killed the trade value. Same price of the used A3, you can avoid this (and 40k miles of wear and tear) with a brand new GTI Autobahn, which is the same car, just more fun to zip around in. In my own personal opinion, the Audi is just for show of wealth and keepin up with the Joneses. Wiser money is on the GTi. Not to mention warranty coverage differences. Even if the A3 is certified, it's the last phase of coverage you can have. Buy a new one, an you still have the option to buy extended coverage later if you'd like.
Current: 2013 4-door GTI / Autobahn w/ DSG / White on Black / New purchase 7/25/12.
Current: 2008 Volvo XC90 V8 / White on Beige / 55k on the clock / POS!
Former: 2007 4-door GTI / all stock / all option + DSG / black on black / CPO buy Aug. 2010 @ 40k / 60k at trade in.
I wanted an A3 badly for a long time. When I was ready to buy, I test drove one. I can't really explain it....obviously they are really nice, refined cars. But it was sort of "blah" in the way it felt when driving (though it was a DSG) and also the interior (which was the nice platinum package...seats were insane the actual layout didn't do it for me). Weird, I know.
Then I test drove a GTI and fell in love with VW all over again. Exterior styling-wise, I prefer the GTI (with wheels other than Detroits, that is), which I never thought I'd say after wanting an A3 for so long. The GTI has more character to me, which is what I like.
Everyone's different, so get which ever you fall in love with.
2004.5 GLI 1.8t (garaged) | 2003 JB 20thAE #3785 (daily driver - SOLD on 6/22/12) | 2012 CW GTI (new daily driver)
A3 6MT+Sport owner here who almost flipped to a '12 GTI 6MT last year. Here's my take:
1. A3 has slightly more hatch room than the GTI;
2. GTI has more rear headroom, easier to get in and out of;
3. GTI has a significantly better interior to the A3 at this point in the product cycle, esp. the steering wheel;
4. GTI may actually be a bit better insulated from road/wind noise than the A3;
5. GTI seats are significantly better than the A3 seats, even in cloth trim.
I think that the A3 is a very classy looking vehicle and mine has held up extremely well. I love it. There are features on the A3 that have spoiled me and I would miss if I were to switch to the GTI:
1. Automatic headlights;
2. Climate control;
3. Larger navigation screen;
4. Panoramic sunroof which gives a much airier and open feel to the cockpit;
I really enjoy my A3 a lot, but there is something unique and intangible about the GTI that I like a lot.
All of this said, keep in mind that the new MQB A3 will be hitting the US in about 10 months' time and the new MQB GTI should be here by the fall of 2013. Both of which will be a significantly step up over the current models. If you're in a position to wait, I'd recommend it.