Audi A3

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Audi A3 Sportback

Road Test

Audi A3 Sportback 2.0-litre TDI driven

Driven January 2013

Additional Info

Historically, Audi's sportier S3/RS3 models have surfaced a few years after the five-door A3 has launched. So you'll have to wait a bit before you'll see the hatch many of you reading this magazine will covet. For now, you'll have to make do with the one most of Britain will actually buy.

It's the new generation Audi A3 Sportback, Ingolstadt's latest weapon of mass consumption (two out of every three A3s sold is a five-door) and it is about as sensible as Captain Sensible's thermal underwear. It's a 2.0-litre diesel hatchback with five doors. Please try to stay awake.

But, while a cursory glance would have you believe it's ‘just another Audi clone', look closely: it's tauter, leaner, sharper. Squint your eyes and there's a whiff of Audi A4 Avant about its rear haunches. Which is almost cool.

That rear obviously holds two more doors, but it also camouflages an extra 35mm in length over the three-door A3, which should come as a refreshing tonic to your legs and knees. It's 58mm longer than it's predecessor, but it's also stifferand lighter, using the new MQB Lego-set platform that 10 million other Volkswagen Group products will sit on.

Predictably, it's heavier than the three-door, but lighter than its rivals from BMW and Mercedes. Lightness is good because like the three-door, this car is a fine thing to point and shoot. The steering is accurate and actually engages you in some kind of dialogue: laconic chat, maybe, but dialogue nonetheless.

And the length hasn't muddied the A3's fine road manners. It grips well, responds positively to light abuse, and in our comfort, SE-spec car, offers really wonderful ride quality. Which all bodes well for the S3, due out late next year. Meanwhile, the 2.0-litre is quiet and unobtrusive, keeping its dieselly gargling to itself and returning fine torque and pace. Of course, you can opt for Sport or S line suspension, but anyone in the UK fond of their spine can untick the sport springs (at no extra cost) and keep the body kit.

The cabin helps with the ambience. The layout remains as per the three-door, seemingly hewn from granite, uncluttered and smart. Very Audi. There's even a neat little screen that allows you to check your Facebook and Twitter, and even fuel prices... which will be handy for when the RS3 comes out.

Vijay Pattni

The numbers
1968cc, 4cyl, FWD, 147bhp, 236lb ft, 67.3mpg, 108g/km CO2, 0-62mph in 8.7secs, 134mph, 1310kg

The verdict
A fine, well damped, beautifully made and practical Audi. You'll still yearn for an RS3, though.

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