DRIV­ING

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test -

THE A3 TDI e is a re­mark­able car. It demon­strates you can use min­i­mal fuel and still drive a prac­ti­cal car. At var­i­ous stages of the week-long test, the A3 was fun. At other times it was frus­trat­ing. The fun bits in­cluded cruis­ing along try­ing to see how lit­tle fuel it could use.

Of course, the car was best on the high­way, us­ing about 3.8 litres/100km on a few runs.

It would use about 4.5-5.0 litres/100km around town if you opened the throt­tle a bit.

The A3 also was used to help move house, and as many boxes as pos­si­ble were crammed in. The Audi swal­lowed a lot of cargo, in­clud­ing a dou­ble bass (which is quite a feat).

An ef­fi­cient hy­brid would not be able to carry nearly as much thanks to the bat­tery pack in the boot.

It all sounds good so far, but there are draw­backs.

First, the en­gine is not the lat­est or great­est and, com­bined with wider gear ra­tios, it can take a while to get go­ing.

When the tur­bocharger spins up it goes hard, but un­til then noth­ing much is go­ing on.

It has a nar­row power band so you will have to change gears early and of­ten.

It is also easy to stall at low speeds. It hap­pened sev­eral times.

The en­gine is loud at idle and the test car had a rhyth­mic sound that was an­noy­ing.

There are no com­plaints about the comfortable ride and the sporty han­dling, which strike the per­fect bal­ance be­tween an in­volv­ing drive and an ac­cept­able ride. You do tend to no­tice a fair bit of noise from those low-re­sis­tance tyres on most sur­faces, too.

The in­te­rior is ba­sic, but the dash­board still looks as if it be­longs in a pre­mium car.

There is a lot of safety gear and a rea­son­able num­ber of fea­tures, in­clud­ing dual-zone cli­mate con­trol. But why isn’t cruise con­trol stan­dard on such an ex­pen­sive small car?

If you want a pres­tige car with a small car­bon foot­print, the A3 TDI e is worth looking at. From a purely fi­nan­cial per­spec­tive, the money you save on fuel costs won’t come close to the pre­mium you pay over sim­i­lar mod­els from non-pres­tige brands.

Buy­ing an ef­fi­cient Citroen C4 diesel at $29,990 or even the larger Skoda Oc­tavia diesel from $29,990 (with the same en­gine as the A3 TDI e) is more sen­si­ble but they don’t have the same ca­chet as an Audi.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

GOOD prac­ti­cal­ity and great econ­omy, but com­pro­mised en­gine and gear­box spoil the drive.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.