Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Audi A3: Repackaged hatchback moves to the top of the class

The new Audi A3

Audi Volkswagen have long been maestros of the small hatchback concept and the latest A3 to wear the famed Audi four-ring badge runs true to that image.

Priced from an affordable £18,280 to an eye-watering £30,640, depending on spec, here’s a car which shows improvement all-round and can move to the top of the class, despite all those worthy competitors snapping at its heels.

For starters, it’s cleaner, more refined looking than ever, with a hint of sportiness but while its grille is toothy, it avoids looking overly aggressive – a criticism that has been levelled at it’s bigger brothers in the German company’s burgeoning portfolio.

Three different suspension settings are offered but why specify anything other than the standard mode, which gives a spot-on balance between agility round the bends and over the humps and a level of comfort acceptable for long cross the land hauls?

Set up this way the A3 will put the more timid motorist at ease while at the same time providing a level of excitement for the more experienced press-on driver. That driver will likely only use the steering wheel mounted flappy gear paddles or the six on the floor gearlever as the automatic mode of the dual clutch S-tronic gearbox is a tad jerky.

There’s a choice of diesel and petrol power plants ranging from 1.2-litres to 2.0-litres in displacement. The all-new offering being a punchy diesel that will sprint from standstill to 62-mph in a brisk 8.6-seconds, though that’s not quite as fast as the 7.1-seconds claimed for the 1,8-litre petrol rendition. Most can achieve 50 mpg when driven frugally.

It can fairly be said that with 24 different configurations on offer, including five Quattro four-wheel drive versions, there’s something for all prospective hatchback buyers.

There’s nothing especially new or exciting about this latest re-packaging exercise – the current A3 just underlines the dynamic qualities of its proud forebears and it will continue to boast good residuals.

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