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Audi A3

By Roger St Pierre

It’s on its way, an Audi A3 plug-in electric/petrol hybrid that will achieve a staggering 188 miles to the gallon.

For now, though, we will have to stick with the plain old diesel version if frugality is our prime concern. Not that the standard Golf in Audi clothing model lacks other fine qualities, bringing nothing but credit to VW’s premium brand.

In present guise, it’s a thoroughly sorted little hot hatch that the good burghers of Ingolstadt can be rightly proud of.

I was recently behind the wheel of the 104-bhp 1.6-litre diesel, which isn’t in the same league as the 2.0 litre TDi, which pumps out a fearsome 248-bhp, but proved quite quick enough for my needs. There are various powerplant options on offer, as well as a choice of three suspension settings – SE, Sport or the considerably lowered S-line.

All provide a comfortable, if firm, ride and agile handling.

The interior is still a bit of a tight fit and scrambling in and out can be a chore for taller drives or those like me, cursed with big feet. But once inside the driving position is good.

As something of a technophobe, I found the innovative multi-media interface a bit daunting to begin with. It’s actually a very simple system, once you get the hang of it, with a big central knob and an adjacent set of buttons covering the main functions,

There’s a decent sized boot and fold flat seats but passengers travelling in the back will find themselves pushed for space, especially if the driver and front passenger take full advantage of the generous amount of rearward travel offered by their perches

Standard equipment levels are good, if not overly generous but then this is a car which keeps things nice and simple, doing its job competently without needing too many bells and whistles.

Out on the road, the little Audi performs well and earns its reputation as a car of choice for those who actually enjoy the driving experience.

A3 prices range from £19,205 to £26,560.

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From Belfast Telegraph