Plas­tic FAN­TAS­TIC

Audi has turned an A3 into an ab­so­lute fuel miser, JAMES STAN­FORD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test -

PRES­TIGE cars usu­ally don’t have plas­tic hub cabs. The A3 TDI e does, and Audi is not ashamed of it. That’s be­cause the smooth, flat wheel cov­ers are ac­tu­ally part of a range of mea­sures that helps this spe­cial diesel A3 save fuel.

How ef­fi­cient is it? Well, the of­fi­cial com­bined fig­ure is 4.5 litres for 100km, and the test car used only 3.8 litres/100km on the high­way.

That is quite im­pres­sive given it doesn’t have a com­pli­cated driv­e­train like a hy­brid.

The spe­cial A3 runs a 1.9-litre com­mon-rail tur­bod­iesel that is also used by Volk­swa­gen and Skoda. It pro­duces 77kW of power and 250Nm of torque from 1900 revs.

Audi has given the en­gine a unique cal­i­bra­tion for op­ti­mum econ­omy, but it is oth­er­wise no dif­fer­ent. The gear­box is a reg­u­lar five-speed man­ual fit­ted with wider ra­tios to al­low the car to do fewer revs in any gear. No au­to­matic is avail­able.

The A3 TDI e is ef­fi­cient, but it’s not quick. Its 0-100km/h in 11.7 sec­onds is pedes­trian.

To save fuel, Audi also changed the sus­pen­sion, fit­ting lower-rid­ing sports springs and shocks to get the car closer to the ground and there­fore re­duce wind re­sis­tance.

The hub cabs have also been de­signed with aero­dy­nam­ics in mind. They are more ef­fi­cient than al­loys that have reg­u­lar spokes to dis­turb the wind flow. Audi also se­lected spe­cial en­ergy-sav­ing tyres with low rolling re­sis­tance.

This A3 looks like any other on the in­side. It does have an in­di­ca­tor to in­form the driver which pro­vides the best pos­si­ble econ­omy. This fea­ture is avail­able on some man­ual Audi mod­els and is likely to be in­tro­duced by other brands.

There are five seats and the rear ones fold down to cre­ate a load area of 1100 litres. A space-saver steel spare is un­der the cargo floor.

The A3 TDI e costs $38,990, which puts it above the en­try level 1.6 petrol ($36,990) and be­low the 2.0 TDI Am­bi­tion diesel ($48,500).

Stan­dard safety gear in­cludes an­ti­skid brakes, elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol and front, side and cur­tain airbags.

Saver: the Audi A3 TDI e has lower-rid­ing sports springs to re­duce wind re­sis­tance and aero­dy­namic hub cabs that don’t dis­turb the wind flow.

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