11.5.2010 Audi A3 Sportback 1.4 TFSi review
Audi's compact executive model, the A3, matches proven style and quality with some impressive motorsport developed technology to show that petrol engines are by no means beaten in the war with diesel; well, providing you don't drive quickly. A spirited run saw just 32.1mpg, and a gentle one near 45mpg. With build quality to rival a tank the A3 bring prestige motoring to those who don't need a big car. The A3 is available in three-door, five-door and cabriolet body styles with a choice of eight direct injection FSI and TDI engines.
Review by Russell Bray for WhatGreenCar.com
Despite only a 1390cc petrol engine under the bonnet the A3 keeps up with traffic fine thanks to turbo-charging. The engine is almost 10bhp more powerful than the 1.6-litre FSI one it replaces. There's 80% of the 147 lbs/ft of torque available from 1,250rpm but you still have to rev it to make it come alive with maximum power (123bhp) not arriving until 5,000rpm. Thankfully it sounds good when you do. With 1320kg to haul, acceleration from rest to 62mph takes 9.8 seconds. Top speed is a more than adequate 126mph.
Audis don't tend to have the balanced feel of some rivals but this car was pleasingly less inert than some versions though the ride, presumably set for Germany's billiard table surfaces, is not only stiff but can jar over ruts and potholes. Response to the steering is measured and precise but there's not much feeling transmitted of the grip under the powered front wheels. No issues were found with the braking (road driving only).
Audi sells its five-door versions of the A3 under the Sportback badge and with its relatively long and low roofline that seems fair enough. Apart from the big, single panel front grille with its familiar four rings the car is pleasingly understated, especially in some darker colours. Five-doors makes life easier but often looks makes cars look staid, something Audi's designers have managed to avoid. Length: 4292mm. Width 1765mm.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Audi's deserved reputation for some of the best interiors in the business is sustained with the A3. Some people might find the seats narrow on the hips and the rather blank radio looks better at night when it is lit by restful red lighting.
There's an extra notch on the rotary light control so you can switch off the daytime running lights if you wish. Instruments are quick to read. A well-shaped leather rimmed steering wheel and gear lever add to the quality appeal. Powerful headlights excellent for cross-country driving.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Official figures: Urban 38.7mpg, extra-urban (some out of town) 57.6mpg, combined 48.7mpg. My real world road test consumption saw 36mpg round town and 43.8mpg overall. Carbon dioxide emissions of 134g/km put the A3 Sportback in band E at an annual road tax of £120. Insurance group 11. Warranty covers three years/60,000 miles.
Sleek aerodynamics and direct injection engine technology that helped Audi to multiple wins at the Le Mans 24 hour race account for the A3 TFSI's efficiency and low fuel thirst. A gear change indicator encourages early upshifts to take advantage of the engine torque and a recuperative braking system charges the alternator. This saves energy in the battery, so that when accelerating it reduces load on the alternator, for a fuel saving of up to 3%. Stop start reduces fuel consumption in town traffic.
Reasonably good with electric windows/mirrors, power steering, alloy wheels, air conditioning, radio with CD player, anti-lock brakes, split-folding rear seats (which boost carrying volume from 370 litres to 1,100litres) and a good complement of airbags and traction and stability systems. But it's easy to spend more. Metallic paint is £500, cruise control – very useful in speed-limit mad Britain - £215, rear parking sensors £300, leather seats £1,000 and satellite navigation £50.
Model tested: Audi A3 Sportback 1.4 TFSI Sport
Body-style: Five-door hatchback
Engine/CO2: 123bhp 1.4 litre petrol / 134 gCO2/km
Trim grades: Standard, Technik, SE, Technik SE, Sport, S-line, Quattro, Quattro Sport
On-road price: From £16,320 (1.6 5-door). Test car £18,620
Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles
In the showroom: Available now
Review rating: 4.0 STARS
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