|Model tested:||Audi A3 1.6 TDi Sport|
|Economy / CO2:||70.6mpg/107g/km|
Review: Audi A3 1.6 TDi Sport (Overall score = 4/5)
If you’re looking to impress your pupils, a posh badge will do the trick, and in the affordable world Audi’s four-ringed badge is as posh as they come. It’s not all style with no substance either, because the A3 is typical Audi in that it’s beautifully built, very safe and projects the right image. This year marks 20 years since the A3 first went on sale; the third-generation car arrived in 2012 and just a few months ago the model was given a nip and tuck to keep it fresh. The update included an improved multimedia system, extra driver assistance technologies, styling tweaks and the introduction of a new entry-level petrol model, the 1.0 TFSi.
Audi builds some of the best car interiors available for a multitude of reasons. Not only do they feel as though they’ll last forever but they’re also extremely easy to live with. The dash is uncluttered, the controls are intuitive and it’s easy to get comfy thanks to ample seat and steering wheel adjustment. There’s a reasonable amount of cubby hole space too, although the cabin’s wraparound design makes it feel quite cramped.
Back seat space isn’t all that generous either; head and leg room are okay but nothing special, while access is awkward thanks to the three-door design. The boot isn’t very capacious, but there is a solution to these issues and that’s the slightly larger five-door A3 Sportback, which carries a £1550 premium over its three-door sibling.
There’s not much here for the enthusiast driver, but your pupils will love it. All of the controls are nicely weighted; the pedals, switchgear, stalks and steering, while the visibility is generally good too. The key fly in the ointment is the rising waistline and thick rear pillars which hamper rear three-quarter visibility, but parking sensors help here (you can switch them off). The instrumentation is clear with the option of a large digital speedometer in the customisable read out between the dials. Refinement levels are excellent and thanks to the high gearing, fuel economy is superb and the car is very easy to drive as the throttle response isn’t too sharp. An electronic parking brake is standard fare; it self-releases as soon as you set off. Our Sport-spec test car sat on 17-inch wheels and the ride was comfortable enough; buy the cheaper SE and things are even better thanks to the fitment of 16-inch alloys.
The key downside to Audi ownership is that it doesn’t come cheap. Entry to the club starts at £19,365 for a 1.0 TFSi SE while the cheapest diesel, the 1.6 TDi SE, costs £21,615. The 1.6 TDi Sport tested here is listed at £23,615 but we’d stick with the SE as it has all you need. The standard kit list runs to xenon lights, air-con, seven-inch pop-up multimedia display, Bluetooth, DAB radio and a space-saver spare wheel.
Sport trim adds dual-zone climate control, plus 17-inch wheels which bumps up the CO2 emissions (from 99 to 107g/km), so instead of no road tax you have to stump up £20 per year. However, the SE is an insurance group higher than the Sport (16 versus 15) but it’s supposed to be a bit more frugal than the Sport (74mpg vs 70mpg) – expect 50-55mpg in the real world.