A driver’s de­light..

If you en­joy life be­hind the wheel, you’ll want to check out the Audi A3, reck­ons GILES BLAIR

Daily Record - - ROAD RECORD -

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

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