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Audi A3 1.6 TDI review

11 March 2013 Audi A3

Eco Facts

Audi A3

Model/Engine size: A3 1.6 TDI Sport 6-speed

Fuel: Diesel

Fuel economy combined: 74.3 mpg

Beating Spirit rating: 9/10

The new Audi A3 1.6 TDI is a quality product that has very few areas of weakness, and it has official combined economy of 74.3mpg, with emissions of just 99g/km CO2.

• Sharper-looking than previous model

• Normal high quality Audi interior

• Refined

• Relatively expensive

Background

The Audi A3 shares the same platform, and engines, as the Volkswagen Golf. With the latest Golf continuing to move further upmarket into traditional Audi territory, has the new Audi A3 done enough to keep itself ahead of the game?

Audi A3 Design & Engineering Audi A3 review

Design & Engineering

The new Audi A3 looks very similar to the previous model, however Audi has implemented some minor styling updates particularly around the front and rear lights, and these small changes have made a big difference, making the car look much sharper. The three-door body of our test car looks sporty, but if you want something more practical instead, there’s the five-door A3 Sportback. In typical Audi fashion, the new A3 looks very similar to other Audi models, especially the A1.

The interior is also in keeping with the rest of the Audi range: well designed with quality materials. As is the case with Audi, the overall design has an understated feel. Our test car had an attractive Alcantara leather interior, but this was an extra-cost option.

A multimedia screen rises up out of the dashboard when the car is started, retreating back into the dash when the car is switched off. The controller for the multimedia system comprises of a dial, a set of four menu buttons, and a set of four buttons to selection of required choices; this is more fiddly than BMW’s iDrive system. The quality of the text on the screen also isn’t as clear as some other systems such as BMW’s.

Space up front and in the boot is reasonable, but things are a bit more cramped in the rear seats, and having only two doors and the hatch, getting children into child seats in the rear is difficult.

Under the bonnet is the familiar Volkswagen Group 1.6 TDI engine, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.

Audi A3 Driving Experience Audi A3 Economy and Emissions

Audi A3 Driving Experience

The A3 feels smooth and refined – more so than the Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI. All the controls – ranging from the steering and gear change to the brake pedal – have a delicate, nicely-weighted feel.

The 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine delivers a good balance between performance and economy rather than great performance.

Handling is good, although like the 1.6 TDI version of the Golf, the A3 1.6 TDI has a less sophisticated rear suspension set-up than the rest of the A3 range. In Sport trim the ride is firmer than in SE spec; SE trim is therefore the spec to choose for the most comfortable ride – although you can opt for standard suspension in Sport trim for no extra cost. There’s also S-line, which has a firmer ride again.

Audi A3 Sport models come with Drive Select, which includes five settings – Auto, Dynamic, Comfort, Efficient and Individual. These settings alter the set-up of the engine and steering, but in reality it’s difficult to feel a huge difference between the different options.

Audi A3 Economy and Emissions

The official combined fuel economy of the Audi A3 1.6 TDI is 74.3mpg, along with 99g/km CO2, which means that it’s cheap to run as a company car, with just 13% Benefit in Kind tax. The A3 has a stop-start system which helps to prevent its fuel economy dropping in urban areas, but in real-life driving outside of stop-start traffic it doesn’t make a huge difference. During our week with the A3 in mixed driving we averaged 55.1mpg.

Audi A3 Dashboard Audi A3 Luggage Space

Price, Equipment and Model Range

The Audi A3 1.6 TDI costs £20,735 . As is usually the case with Audi press cars, our A3 included a number of options: Scuba Blue paint (£525.00); Alcantara leather (£795.00); 17” x 7.5J ‘5-arm Kinetic’ design alloy wheels (£250.00); Satellite Navigation System – SD card based (£495.00); Storage and luggage package (£145.00); Xenon light package (£1,250.00); Heated front seats (£260.00); and Audi sound system (£255.00). The total price of the test car was £25,355.

The A3 is available in three levels of trim: SE, Sport and S line. SE spec comes with Bluetooth, a USB socket, voice control and manual air-conditioning. Sport trim includes dual-zone climate control, sports seats and Audi’s Drive Select system, as well as sports suspension – although the standard SE suspension is still available as a no-cost option. S line models gain a body kit.

Although the A3 is relatively expensive, it should hold its value well.

Audi A3 Conclusion

At first sight the Audi A3 doesn’t seem to have undergone any particularly significant changes, but the result is a car that is difficult to fault. It looks good, it’s refined, it has an interior that is both well designed and that features high quality materials, and it’s economical. It’s ideal as a company car , offering an aspirational brand, a good driving experience, and low running costs.

It’s more expensive than a Golf, but it does feel more special, particularly in the interior. There are very few downsides, apart from the impracticality of only three doors, but of course you can always buy a five-door Sportback version if that’s a big issue. The Audi A3 1.6 TDI gets a Beating Spirit rating of 9 out of 10.

Car Facts and Figures

Audi A3 1.6 TDI Sport 6-speed data

Fuel economy extra urban: 85.6 mpg

Fuel economy urban: 61.4 mpg

Test economy: 55.1 mpg

CO2 emissions: 99 g/km

Green rating: VED band A – £0 a year

Weight: tbc Kg

Company car tax liability (2012/13): 13%

Price: £20,735

Insurance group: 15

Power: 105 PS

Max speed: 121 mph

0-62mph: 10.7 seconds

DPF: Yes

Paul Clarke

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