New Audi A3 Sportback review
Audi’s A3 resolutely created the premium compact car segment back in 1996. Now, 25 years on, the fourth generation of this incredibly successful motor is here.
All powerplants in the latest A3 Sportback excite with their commanding torque and erudite running characteristics. In Britain, the premium five-door model comes with a few engine versions, both with quattro and front-wheel drive. The 1.5 TFSI, reviewed here, is fitted with a mild hybrid system (MHEV).
With this unit, the German automaker is continuing its electrification policy in the premium compact sector. A belt alternator starter (BAS) nourishes a 48-volt electrical system that incorporates a lithium-ion battery. During brake applications or when decelerating, the BAS recuperates power and feeds it to the A3’s energy storage unit. When driving away and gathering speed, it supports the TFSI with torque. With the MHEV system, the Sportback can glide with its powerplant deactivated for around 40 seconds, helping with better consumption. Got that? Good.
Aside from a fidgety ride around London’s rutted roads, I found the Audi A3 Sportback to be a decent alternative to the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Once out of the clogged urban sprawl and on the motorway, my review car was tranquil, quick, and planted. The unity of the slick-changing manual gearbox and the 1.5-litre engine makes for a confidence-inducing, dynamic and comfy ride.
The suspension is not blatantly soft like some Mercedes models can be, but it doesn’t jar you, either. When I swung off the M1 onto snaking rural routes, the A3 did a fine job of ironing out imperfections in the tarmac. And it’s on the country bends that you begin to become cognisant of the 35 TFSI S line’s assured and flat cornering conduct.
Indeed, behind the tiller, the A3 is immensely competent and doesn’t thrust its judiciously punchy aptitude into your face, as much as, say, a similarly powered BMW 1 Series does. The energy is subtle, but there are mountains of shove when you need it. Even completely weighed down with possessions and people, the car never runs out of steam and allows you to get through many miles readily.
Words: Tim Barnes-Clay
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