If you were a fan of the last A3, you’ll like the upgraded model even more. And there’s a new baby of the range which is sure to win over new buyers.
Less is frequently more in these times of surging technology.
Nowhere is this more evident than in automotive engine wizardry. Witness the recent rapid advance in small petrol engine development – a progress that is only likely to further hasten in the aftermath of Dieselgate.
From the International launch in Germany by Jonathan Smith, cars available A3 e-tron Sportback, A3 Sportback, S3 cabriolet, S3 Saloon.
One of the best examples is just about to come to market in the shape of the new 1.0 litre, three-cylinder Audi A3, more refined than a diesel and just as frugal.
On sale in July, the star of the newly upgraded A3 range undoubtedly has the smallest engine and is the cheapest model in the line-up. Replacing the more conventional 1.2 litre, four-cylinder petrol unit, the new 999cc engine knocks out a creditable 113bhp, has oodles of torque for its size and should average close to 50mpg in everyday running.
Unlike some three-cylinders, refinement is high on its tick boxes. There’s a distant burble which gives the game away but the sound is pleasant and even a tad sporty. What’s more, there’s no hint of vibration or harshness.
It’s almost indecently quick for such a diminutive engine – 62mph comes up in under 10 seconds and the max is 128mph. The model I drove was fitted with optional seven-speed automatic box complete with steering wheel paddles, a marriage that works well in providing a smooth, effortless flow of albeit limited power.
The 1.0TFSI is likely to have a price tag of under £19,000 making it the entry model of the revamped range.
Changes to the A3 – described by Audi as making it sportier and more expressive – are confined to visual tweaks to the front bumper, headlights and tail design. In the cabin, the changes are more noticeable with the adoption of Audi’s own Virtual Cockpit system, which was first installed in the current TT and has since found its way into the A4 and latest Q7.
It gathers everything that would normally be in the infotainment screen and places it directly in front of the driver. Best of all the sat-nav is displayed just inches from the driver’s eyes. Another clever touch is a built-in SIM card which gives internet access for three years.
The full A3 line-up – three-door hatchback, four-door saloon, five-door Sportback and Cabriolet – benefit from the improvements with prices ranging from the 1.0TFSI at about £19k – price to be fixed shortly – to £35,930 for the A3 e-tron.
Most popular models in Britain are expected to be the 1.6TDI Sportback and the 2.0TDI Saloon.
Without doubt, the most fun is likely to be had with the seriously quick S3 quattro, which gets a power boost of 10bhp taking up to 307bhp. I drove the saloon version with seven-speed S tronic gearbox. Looking neat and purposeful in metallic dark grey paintwork and shod with 19-inch alloys, it goes as quickly as its muscular appearance suggests.
The two pairs of exhausts emit a rorty growl as the turbocharged 2.0litre four-cylinder catapults the four-door saloon to 62mph in a mere 4.5seconds. Maximum is an electronically restricted 155mph – without the artificial limitation, the S3 would be good for about 170mph.
It’s a no-fuss form of progress. Relentless but effortless. Perhaps, for some, rather too uninvolving but nevertheless infinitely impressive…especially when you are furnished with the knowledge that the CO2 emissions are just 146g/km, almost 30g/km fewer than archrival BMW M135.
Translated into normal terms, this corresponds to a combined fuel average of 44.1mpg. So most owners will be able to get 32mpg-plus in normal driving. And company car drivers will have benefit-in-kind tax of 26% – a big saving on most rivals.
Steering, though highly geared, is without ultimate sensitivity but is reasonable well weighted when cornering at speed. A combination of quattro four-wheel-drive and fat, low profile rubber ensure you don’t easily become unstuck.
The subtle changes and evolutionary improvements will surely keep the A3 line-up near the top of the tree and allow Audi to continue to trade punches with Mercedes and BMW.
Audi A3 1.0TFSI – Price: From £19,000 (TBC)
Maximum speed: 128mph,
combined mpg: 62mpg
Engine layout: 1.0litre TFSI, 3-cyl petrol, fwd.
Max power: 113bhp,
Max torque: [email protected] 2,000 to 3,500rpm.
CO2 emissions: 104g/km
Cheaper Rivals Available
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