We've driven the stylish new Audi A3 Sportback
There’s a new Audi A3 on the scene that not only is a head-turner, but features a broader range of more efficient engines and delivers a more involving driving experience.
Now into its fourth generation, the A3 builds upon the same foundation as its predecessor, which also used the modular ‘MQB’ platform that underpins other models such as the Skoda Octavia, SEAT Leon and Volkswagen Golf. The overall size remains largely the same, as does to the 380-litre boot capacity. Audi has made more of an effort to visually distinguish the different model lines, however. Inside, as well as more screen ‘real estate’, the overall look and quality of the materials are better than ever. It’s easily an aesthetic match for the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and in our opinions surpasses the BMW 1 Series in terms of design.
How is it to drive?
Although the A3 sits on largely the same platform as before, there are some changes that affect how it drives, namely an increase in track width by 11mm. The base models get a torsion beam rear suspension design, while cars with 150hp and more get a more advanced multilink rear setup. The latter is better to drive, especially in faster bends and on bumpier roads, though the former doesn’t give much cause for complaint. The optional adaptive suspension is nicer again, and offers a better spread between managing the bumps and retaining composure when driven in a sportier fashion.
The steering is light but direct feeling, and on most versions can be adjusted through the Drive Select function. The 150hp output from the 35 TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine suits the car particularly well, while Audi’s automatic S tronic transmission is worth adding if you spend a lot of time driving in heavy traffic. We drove the mild hybrid version, too, which uses a 48-volt electrical system allowing the engine to switch off while coasting. It all works well and can help to save a bit more fuel. Diesel power will remain a popular choice for A3 buyers and the 150hp 35 TDI provides a smooth and more refined experience than previously. The lesser powered 116hp 30 TDI should be even more economical to run, though, so it’ll do well here.
When is it coming to Ireland?
It is planned that the first of the new Audi A3s will arrive in Ireland in time for summer, and these are likely to include the 35 TFSI petrol and 35 TDI diesel models. Pricing it still to be confirmed, though we expect that there may be a slight price increase over the outgoing model.
Any juicy technology?
Every version of the A3 will come with a 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system, as well as a 10.25-inch ‘Virtual Cockpit’ digital instrument screen. The A3 is also available with a colour head-up display and the option of a wireless charging pad. A built-in SIM card will allow it to be permanently connected to various online services, too.
The A3 remains the consummate premium hatchback and it is a serious bit the competition for its main rivals. With more choice in the engine department there should be something to suit most buyers, and let’s not forget about the prospect of faster models and hybrids still to come. The A3 was always a good car, but it truly feels like Audi has stepped up its standard in a bigger way with this fourth-generation model.