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Audi A3
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Audi A3 1.4 TFSI Sport

Driven March 2008

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You know how everyone is driving around in diesels these days? Well, apparently, that could shift over the next couple of years, as more people get back into petrol. Small, efficient, turbocharged petrol engines, to be precise. It's to do with tax and emissions levels, none of which I really understand.

What I do know is that if this trend means more cars like the Audi A3 1.4-litre TFSI, then I'm all in favour. These Audi FSI engines used to be a bit rough and ready, but intelligent people have obviously been set to work on them, because they're now much more refined.

They're still not as smooth as a straight six, for instance, but compared to normal four-cylinder petrol engines, the latest FSI is a big step forward.

This little turbo engine provides you with a surprising amount of punch, even though it's only a 1.4: 123bhp and, more importantly, 147lb ft of torque are perfectly respectable figures, and they make the A3 surprisingly fast.

Throttle responsiveness is impressive - the turbo doesn't really come fully on song until 2,200rpm, but that's low enough in the rev range to give you plenty of urge in cut-and-thrust traffic around town. And there's still enough poke on the motorway to maintain fast rep-mobile speeds without dropping out of top gear.

But it can't quite knock the diesel off its spot, because drive this Audi hard, and you'll really struggle to get the claimed 43.5mpg out of it. Still, petrol's not quite dead yet.

Piers Ward

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