The A3 became more prominent thanks to its bold design and improved driving dynamics
What is it?
Designers have brought a more attractive design to the five-door Sportback A3.
The new A3 uses an evolution of the Volkswagen Group’s ubiquitous MQB platform, with enhancements to accommodate a wider spread of powertrain options that will include mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants.
There are three lines of the A3 including the Sport, Technik and S Series, with each receiving a subtle exterior styling difference. Technik and S receive headlights with a small table of 15 LEDs that provide different light signatures for each version to make a bigger difference in terms of image.
Audi distinguishes the S line exterior further with larger honeycomb structures for the side vents and the three Quattro-inspired (blanked-off) slots in the front of the bonnet. Higher-spec Edition 1 and Vorsprung versions will arrive after the start of sales.
The A3’s new cabin has more materials and a dashboard, more focused on the driver.
10.25-inch digital instrument screens are standard, Audi offers a larger 12.3-inch version as an optional upgrade. There’s also a 10.1in touchscreen that runs Audi’s latest MIB3 infotainment system. Smartphone mirroring for Android and Apple devices is available, although not wirelessly at launch. There are also angled wireless device charging pads, USB-A and USB-C ports in the center console.
In other smaller Audi models, the small cluster at the bottom of the dashboard with accessible physical buttons instead of the extra touch screen for climate control settings. This makes it possible for drivers to adjust frequently without glancing off the road.
The materials for the coatings are manufactured from recycled PET bottles.
The boot capacity of the A3 remains the same as in the previous generation, at 380 litres, and this increases to 1200 litres when the rear seats are folded forward.
What’s it like?
Audi equips the A3 with an optional progressive steering system. This system allows the driver to switch from lock to lock quickly, which is great for parking. However, it also makes the A3 feel unbelievable when attacking a particularly tight sequence of corners. It’s a worthwhile upgrade no matter where you spend most of your time driving. Incidentally, the standard power steering system is electromechanical with speed-sensitive assistance.
Different drive modes are also included in the Drive Selection function. We found that it was only the sportier Dynamic mode that made any real difference, predictably weighting up the steering to require more input force from the driver. And actually, as you wind on lock in this setting, there’s an unpleasant amount of resistance, so we feel the steering is best left in the default mode.
adaptive suspension is optional, reducing the ride height by 10 mm. It uses a new system with specially designed valves in the dampers to alter the rate of flow, thus allowing for a greater difference between the Comfort and Sport settings than previous systems. Driven back to back with an A3 on passive suspension, the greater distinction between the settings is immediately obvious.
The A3 line-up will expand with the introduction of a 114bhp diesel version with a more tempting BIK tax rate – as low as 21% depending on spec. While maintaining a similar power output to the older 1.6-litre TDI engine.
Smoother still is the 48V mild-hybrid petrol 35 TFSI. Its BAS (belt alternator starter) ensures near-seamless engine restarts at the traffic lights and can provide for engine-off coasting at up to 100mph to save fuel. The turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine will be available without the BAS, featuring the cylinder-on-demand technology that enables it to run on two cylinders during lighter engine loads.
Should I buy one?
Exterior and interior has been greatly improved, driving experience is more enjoyable than before. This is a good signal for Audi as the A3 expands to sportier S3 models and beyond.
- Price £31,650 On sale May
- Engine 4 cyls in line, 1968cc, turbo
- Power 148bhp at 3000-4200rpm
- Torque 265lb ft at 1600-2750rpm
- Gearbox 7-spd automatic
- Kerb weight 1410kg
- Top speed 139mph 0-62mph 8.4sec
- Fuel economy 72.4-76.3mpg
- CO2 98-103g/km