A driver’s delight..
If you enjoy life behind the wheel, you’ll want to check out the Audi A3, reckons GILES BLAIR
ENTHUSIASTIC drivers have every chance of enjoying miles of smiles with the latest Audi A3 Sportback.
The premium German marque’s family hatchback’s road handling thoroughly impressed me when I had it on test in the 35 TDI S line spec.
It had great throttle, braking and steering responses and seemed glued to the black stuff at all times – despite encountering some atrociously wet and potholed roads.
Adding to the pleasure were the various driving modes at my disposal and an upmarket, comfortable cabin.
At the end of every journey, no matter how short, I couldn’t help but grin as I got out – admiring the sporty exterior looks as I walked away from the A3.
Powering the test car is an impressive 2.0-litre diesel engine, mated to a slick seven-speed automatic transmission, kicking out a healthy 150PS.
The oil burner propels the car to 62mph in 8.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 139mph, although I have to say that the acceleration seemed faster.
I even felt as if I was being pressed back into the cosseting leather driver’s seat when I hit the right pedal hard.
Yet despite some spirited motoring on my part, the fuel gauge seemed reticent to dip – this version will officially average 57.6mpg, which puts CO2 levels at 128g/km.
A sports suspension on the S line ensures a more direct contact with the road and sportier handling but the handily placed Drive Select button enhances the experience, too. The different modes alter the accelerator and gear change responses, steering weight, suspension and even engine sound.
The options are auto, efficiency, comfort, dynamic and individual – and I found auto was ideal for everyday use, providing a blend of comfort and sportiness.
But comfort was a superb option on some weather-ravaged, heavily rutted surfaces on some country back roads, not to mention urban speed bumps.
And dynamic really gave the car a sporty feel on more engaging, twisty, hilly and thankfully recently resurfaced roads around Ayrshire, while efficiency was great for relaxed motorway cruising.
Sporty styling includes an imposing, chromeframed, gloss-black grille, some sizeable air inlet and chrome tailpipe designs, five-spoke 18in alloys and large rear spoiler.
I also liked the dynamic front and rear light clusters, as well as the A3’s blend of sharp and flowing lines.
Once inside, you are greeted by dark leather and faux leather sports seats with contrasting light stitching, metallic detailing around the dash and doors and a black cloth headlining. Again, there is a mix of sharp angles and flowing lines, while the build quality is reassuringly solid and features some superb soft-touch finishing.
There is good room for a family of four and the sensibly shaped 380-litre boot will swallow up a few cases and rises to 1200-litres with the rear seats folded.
Also first-class is the Audi infotainment system and Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster.
A 10.1in central colour touchscreen gives access to the internet, various car functions, a 3D-map intelligent sat nav, DAB radio, full smartphone integration and numerous other features.
The 10.25in digital panel in front of the driver allows you to display a wide variety of information, including the sat nav map. This handily allowed my wife to use the central display to select her music choices.
Other creature comforts and aids include auto lights and wipers, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, automatic emergency braking (including pedestrian and cyclist detection), lane departure warning and a breakdown assistance/emergency call service.
Priced from £31,655 on the road, the A3 Sportback S line 35 TDI S tronic should be on the list for any driver who is seeking fun on the family run.
Z ENGAGING The Audi A3 Sportback is superb to drive and is offered with a host of hi-tech systems