Cars are similar to smartphones in the way they keep on evolving. Much like the latest telephone which offers a bigger screen and more memory, the new Audi A3 Sportback comes with more space; added practicality yet weighs less than the previous model.
New Audi A3 Sportback review by David Taylor
In a world where I believe cars are representative of personality, I struggled to understand why people would buy an A3. Yes, I was judging it purely on looks and it was one car which had eluded me on the test vehicle circuit. Finally, my chance with one came and I spent a few days with a black Audi A3 Sportback 1.4 TFSI.
Premium and mature looks
Let’s be honest, this Audi isn’t the most head-turning of vehicles on the road today. In my opinion the A3 is far too understated in the looks department but after giving it some thought, I realised your average Audi owner doesn’t want to show off. He or she is quite happy for the four silver rings on the front and back of the car to do the talking. Basically, Audis have enough prestige associated with them and are above being judged in the visual stakes. That said, the new Audi A3 Sportback is a very smart package. The front is dominated with the sexiest daytime running lights, while the rear still retains some elements from the predecessor.
Top class Audi interior
It’s a similar story once you climb in. The cabin feels sparse in comparison to the button fest of, say a Mercedes-Benz A-class, but here it’s all about the details. Where the Audi scores top marks is the build quality and the maturity of the entire package. This is an extremely well put together vehicle and everything has a distinct luxury feel to it. Even something as miniscule such as the ventilation fan dial feels like it has been forged out of solid metal. I can’t fault the ergonomics either, and everything is right where it should be. While the German manufacturers have achieved notoriety for selling bare cars and then charging the earth for extras, I was quite pleasantly surprised to see that the new Audi A3 Sportback comes standard with a smart, high-quality LCD screen which neatly tucks itself into the dashboard when the vehicle is off.
Best infotainment system ever tested
This particular A3 did have a few options bolted on, such as satellite navigation. It may have a price tag of R22 200, but it’s quite easily one of the finest in-car entertainment and navigation systems I’ve ever used. Audi competitors should pay attention to the ease of use, as well as the interface. The coolest thing about it has to be the touchpad which allows you to type letters and numbers using your finger. I was blown away. There are steering wheel controls for audio, trip computer as well as voice command. There’s also a stalk for cruise control located neatly behind the wheel.
Engine and gearbox is an unbeatable combination
I was driving the 1.4 TFSI version and this engine is flawless. Coupled with the dual-clutch S-tronic gearbox, the Audi A3 is able to tick both the economical and pace boxes. It has 90kW and 200Nm which gives the A3 enough grunt to hit 100km/h in just under ten seconds, while fuel economy is rated at 5.0 litres/100km. During my time with the car, the trip computer hovered around the 5.8L mark – impressive considering Johannesburg’s gridlocked roads. The car came with Start/Stop, which further keeps the fuel bills down. What’s even more impressive is the S-tronic gearbox. Gear changes appear to blur into one another and all you need to do is steer and accelerate. I was disappointed by the lack of steering-wheel mounted paddles throughout the range. A gearbox this responsive encourages driver involvement and personally I love being able to change gears without taking my hands off the wheel.
Audi A3 Sportback 1.4 TFSI - Conclusion
This is a superb package which boasts great levels of refinement. You can’t help but feel like your hard-earned money has gone into something luxurious. Even on optional 17-inch alloy wheels the ride is exemplary and it’s one of the most comfortable premium hatches on the market. Audi has thrown together a decent pricing strategy along with a strong five-year Freeway plan as well as giving you a generous helping of gadgets, meaning you’re actually getting a premium German car without having to fork out unnecessarily for what you’d assume would be standard features.
New Audi A3 Sportback 1.4 TFSI - Price
Audi A3 Sportback 1.4 TFSI - R307 500
- Why you should: Premium product, supreme refinement, great engine and gearbox combination, best infotainment system hands down.
- Why you shouldn’t: I’d be nit-picking. If you want one, get one. It’s THAT good.
- It would be better if: a USB port at no cost was fitted. R2 540 for a USB and Apple cable is absurd.
- View the vehicle: New Audi A3 / Used Audi A3
- Competitors worth checking out: Golf 7, Mercedes-Benz A-Class