Believe it or not, the car in the photo is the new Audi A3 Sportback. Itís probably the least arduous facelift weíve ever seen.
So, Audiís designers have given this car new front and rear lights, slightly different bumpers, a new 1.0 litre 3 cylinder petrol engine, LED headlights and Audiís Virtual Digital Cockpit dashboard. However, the two last items arenít standard across the range.
Step inside and youíll find that the interior is identical in this facelifted car to the old one. In fact, thereís only one change and this is the addition of Audiís Virtual Cockpit. Weíve seen this on all other Audi cars and it really is a model of clarity and common sense. You can spec it on most models apart from the entry level SE and it costs around £450. Youíre also able to bundle it into a big package such as the Technology Package and for this you get an upgraded sat-nav system, a touch sensitive pad on the rotary dial and Audiís phone box which helps boost the signal on your mobile phone. Elsewhere and itís just the quality that really shines through. Everything you touch feels as though itís built to last and thereís a real sense of luxury and minimalism. Thereís also a useful amount of storage dotted around the place and the door-bins are certainly large enough to fit in a large bottle of water.
Audi offers the A3 Sportback in five trim levels. Entry level SE cars get 16 inch alloys, air conditioning, a leather steering wheel, a 7 inch retractable infotainment screen, DAB radio, rear parking sensors and cruise control. The SE Technik adds sat-nav and Audiís online connectivity service while Sport trim brings dual climate control, Audiís drive mode selector and 17 inch alloys. If you opt for the popular S Line and Black Edition trims and you get LED headlights, sports suspension, 18 inch wheels, part leather seats and a subtle body-kit.
In the back thereís nothing too much to write home about. Thereís plenty of room in the back where the average sized adult will find a decent amount of leg room and the head room isnít too bad either. There are some nice touches at the back such as low level ventilation and a neatly hidden cubby where you can hide a florescent jacket should you break down. Unfortunately, there isnít an arm rest which is a shame and if you do carry a third passenger then theyíll find it a little bit difficult to haul themselves over the large hump in the floor. Once theyíve done that then theyíll find it not particularly comfortable and they really are going to be squabbling for shoulder room. Having said that these really are minor niggles as generally speaking it does feel decidedly more spacious than the Mercedes Benz A Class.
Around at the boot youíll be greeted with 365 litres of space which is roughly the same amount of space that youíll find on the BMW 1 Series. However, itís really the small details that surprise and delight. For example, when you lift up the boot floor youíll find space for a space-saver spare wheel and some extra storage. Thereís also a little net that you can use to store those items that tend to fly around the place while youíre driving. Thanks to a fairly high boot floor it means that loading in your luggage is very straight forward. If you want even more storage then you can simply fold down the rear seats giving you an almost flat loading area. This means that itís a piece of cake to push your luggage further forward.
The A3ís engine range is pretty broad. For petrol thereís the new 1.0 litre 114 Break Horse Power (bhp) and a 148 bhp 1.5 litre unit. Thereís also a 187 bhp 2.0 litre petrol engine. If youíre after a diesel then thereís a 114 bhp or 148 bhp 1.6 litre unit and a 181 bhp 2.0 litre to choose from. Four-wheel drive is available on the 2.0 litre petrol and diesel engine and the 1.5 litre petrol. Thereís also an E-Tron electric hybrid and a spicy S3 and RS3 model.
The car weíre reviewing is the 1.0 litre, 3 cylinder turbo charged petrol engine. Weíve seen this engine in so many VW group cars and it never fails to impress. However, itís in the A3 where it impresses the most because the refinement it produces is absolutely extraordinary. We would assume that if you werenít told that there was a 1.0 litre engine under the bonnet then you probably wouldnít know. Itís only under harsh acceleration that you can hear that typical 3 cylinder drum because for the most part this is a very smooth and refined engine. On the motorway thereís only the tyre roar and wind whistle around the door mirrors that permeates the cabin because the engine is ultra-hushed. Audiís fuel consumption figures make for reassuring reading too. The diesel models officially get between around 60 and 70 miles to the gallon (mpg) while the 1.0 litre turbo petro gets you 62.8 mpg.
Handling-wise the Audi A3 is absolutely fine and this is all we can really say. Ok, the steering is a little bit rubbery but itís direct enough. Itís weighs up nicely but there just isnít the same feel that you get in the BMW 1 Series. Again, the body control is fine and, as you find on most VW group models, the pedals and the controls all have a nice weighting to them - they all feel very consistent. The high speed drive is ok on the motorway but around town it can get a little bit jary. We would recommend going for the six-speed manual gearbox, especially if you opt for the 1.0 litre, as itís got a really slick gearbox. The automatic gearbox on the other hand takes a little bit of time to down-change so weíd stick with the manual if we had to choose between the two.
In the way of many cars these days the Audi A3 starts of pretty affordable. However, once you add in a couple of options then things get a little less appealing. If you were to spec a VW Golf with exactly the same options then youíll find the Golf considerably cheaper. The facelift afforded to the A3 hasnít done much to enhance the car nor has it done anything to detract from its appeal because the A3 has always been an extremely good car. However, one thing remains and this is the price of the four-ringed badge. Letís face it, with the A3 now sporting the same technology and engines that you now find in the VW Golf you really do have to want this badge. This is because youíre definitely going to be paying more for it. If youíre on the lookout for new or used Audi A3 cars for sale then weíve got thousand to choose from!