If you know Audi then you will know what it
is like when it comes to refreshing models…well you will know that when it does refresh a
model you can never really tell the difference – and that goes for the new Audi A3 hatchback
as well. Now that’s not to say it isn’t a great looking car, in fact it is one of
the best looking family hatch’s out there, it just looks very similar to the previous
model – but that’s just Audi for you. If you do look really closely or you are an
avid Audi fan then you will probably notice a few of the aesthetic changes, but the real
changes are a bit more technical – in fact, this iteration of the A3 is actually built
on a whole new chassis than the previous model and has shed 80kg in weight.
What I love about the Audi A3 is that even though you know it is a hatchback it still
feels like an Audi inside, it has that distinct German quality about it with a well built
dashboard and luxury feel materials. There is also a surprising amount of space and plenty
of storage compartments. One of the main features of the Audi A3’s
dash is its pop-up LCD infotainment system, which rises from the dash by the push of a
button. Another cool feature is the voice control system which acts a bit like Ford’s
SYNC technology. You basically give the car common a demand like and it does it for you.
This voice activation and infotainment system is standard as well, along with air con, steering
wheel mounted controls and MP3 connectivity. In the back there is as much space you could
possibly need for a hatchback. However, the head room can be a bit awkward, especially
for someone as tall as me. The Sportback version of the A3 fixes this. The Sportback also adds
two more doors to make it a bit more practical when getting in and out.
Thanks to the new chassis, the Audi A3’s boot is bigger than ever, with a nice wide
opening as well as a handy removable boot base. The seats also fold down to allow an
almost completely flat loading area. The Audi A3 offers a great range of engines,
many of which have been revamped since the previous range. A 2.0-litre diesel unit is
one of these reworked engines and the changes are definitely noticeable as it delivers quite
a hefty power output of 141bhp and can return up to around 70mpg.
Audi has re-jigged the suspension on the new A3 and it is now less firm than the previous
model, which actually makes it a bit more fun to drive. It also delivers great grip
and allows the car to have a bit more of a sportier feel.
As with many Audi’s there is a sports suspension available, but to be honest
the sports suspension is a step back compared to the standard – so I suggest you go with
the standard instead. In terms of fun factor, the Audi
is a joy to drive – but, like always, the
reputation and downright ability of the BMW range dawns on it – and I think the BMW
1 Series comes out on top if I am honest. Audi is a desired brand, and the A3 is a particularly
nice car, so resale should be on your side. New, you are looking at around £20,000, which
is around 3 or 4 grand more expensive than the VW Golf. However, the A3 is cheap to run
and quite fun to drive. We give the Audi A3 four out of 5 stars.
Audi’s famed style is of course one of the selling points of the A3 – and when coupled
with its luxury interior, it makes for a very desirable car. We give its appeal 4 out of
five stars. Loads of room for rear passengers and plenty
of space in the boot. The Audi A3’s practicality far surpasses it hatchback label. We give
its practicality 4 out of five stars. The A3 offers a great choice of engines, some
with economy in mind and others with performance. This can be hard to find in some hatchbacks.
We give its performance 4 out of five stars. A new suspension means the A3 is as agile
and reliable as ever on the road, so much in fact that a sports suspension isn’t even
necessary to really enjoy yourself out on the road. We give its ride and handling 4
out of five stars. With economical engine options on offer and
the prestigious badge of the Audi brand, the A3 is both relatively cheap to run and will
retain its residual value very well. We give its ownership 4 out of five stars.
So, with all of its luxurious credentials it’s hard to believe that the Audi A3 is
actually a hatchback. But when it does come to being a hatchback, the A3 pulls it off
with flying colours. We give the Audi A3 an overall rating of 4 out of five stars.