Modest looks, supermodel performance
Sense of purpose
The biggest selling-point for Audi remains the interior cabin. There’s a sense of purpose and comfort that isn’t matched by its rivals. Even in the rather basic entry models you still feel there’s value in the offering and that corners haven’t been cut just because you couldn’t scrape enough together to get the bigger saloon.
There’s nothing flimsy or cheap in the cabin, while the switchgear has the same touch, feel and attention to detail you get in top-end Audis at three times the price.
In terms of specification, the Sports version adds a firmer sports suspension and Audi’s Drive Select programme, but arguably the best value to be had is with the SE format, €1,000 more than the entry-level but with features such as cruise control and rear-park assist that will prove worthwhile when it comes to sell or trade-in. The A3 Sportback, with its hatchback-cum-estate format, offers the sort of practicality that family hatchback owners need. It adds to this a sense of solid build quality that should be a prerequisite on premium cars but sadly isn’t always there.
The trick with the new A3, is that there is no trick. For all the hyperbole about “innovation” and the slick advertising campaigns that Audi have invested in to date, the story of this premium family hatchback is simple: from the moment you close the door there’s a sense of reassurance about the whole package.
Audi’s greatest asset isn’t the sharp suited sales staff, the shiny overly expensive showrooms or even the often baffling finance packages. It’s down to the engineers and the production line. Its cars are well-built and it shows inside and out.
Pitch the new A3 Sportback against the likes of the BMW 1 Series or the new Mercedes A-Class or Volvo V40, and it doesn’t win out in terms of styling. All boast premium badges from the bonnet, and the BMW and Mercedes offer more engaging drives. Yet it’s arguably the one where you won’t feel shortchanged.
ENGINE:1968cc four-cylinder diesel putting out 150bhp @ 3,500rpm and 320Nm of torque @ 1,750rpm
FUEL ECONOMY:4.2 L/100km (67.3mpg)
EMISSIONS (motor tax):108g/km (€190)
FEATURES:ABS; electronic stability control; remote central locking; fron, side airbags; knee airbag for driver; 5.8-inch colour display; MMI radio: Mp3/Apple connection; Bluetooth with audio streaming; 16-inch alloys; electronic parking brake; space saving spare wheel; leather multifunction steering wheel ; electric front windows.
SE (€1,000) adds:front foglights; cruise control; rear park assist; heated door mirrors; colour driver information system.
Sport (€2,500 on entry-level) adds:17-inch alloys; Audi Drive select system; sports suspension; front sports seats
PRICE:€31,600 as tested