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Audi A3 Sportback

THREE CALLING (some text hidden)

By Jonathan Crouch

The MK4 model Audi A3 Sportback demonstrates that class is permanent. Jonathan Crouch reports.

Ten Second Reviewword count: 95

The premium compact car. If that concept means anything to you, then it's the car we look at here, Audi's A3 Sportback, that might well come to mind. True to the brand's Vorsprung durch Technik philosophy, this model once again aims to set fresh standards, incorporating a completely digitalised interior and cutting-edge infotainment, plus more unique light signatures, powerful engines and a suite of innovative assistance systems enveloped in a completely redesigned, yet immediately recognisable body. The result is a car that should show you just how far things have recently progressed in this segment.

Backgroundword count: 181

The Audi A3 firmly established the premium compact class in 1996. Now, more than a quarter of a century further on, the fourth generation of this highly successful model is ready to make its mark. These days of course, this Audi faces strong competition, but back in 1996 when we first saw the A3 model line, the idea of being able to move a car up-market in class and appeal without increasing its size was new and rather different. Cynics dismissed it as a way of dressing up ordinary family hatches and charging a lot more for them. Customers though, loved the idea and by the time the second generation A3 arrived in 2003, BMW and Mercedes rivals had also arrived to swell the market. Initially, those two brands struggled to produce products good enough to overtake Audi and the result was that nearly a quarter of a million MK2 A3s were pounding global roads by the time the third generation model arrived in the Autumn of 2012. It sold for nearly eight years until this more cutting-edge MK4 model arrived.

Driving Experienceword count: 251

To start with, there's nothing particularly shocking on the engine front. The keynote mainstream engine is a 1.5-litre TFSI petrol unit with 150PS, which is offered in conventional form with a manual gearbox but gets Audi's 48-volt mild hybrid tech if you order it with the 7-speed S tronic auto transmission. The other mainstream engine option is another 150PS unit, a 2.0 TDI diesel that has to be had with the S tronic auto. You can also talk to your dealer about a couple of lesser powerplants, a 1.0 TFSI three cylinder petrol engine with 110PS (in the 30 TFSI) and a de-tuned 2.0 TDI diesel with 116PS (in the 30 TDI variant). More powerful future variants will get quattro drive and there'll also be a petrol plug-in hybrid offered in two power levels. As usual, upper models will offer optional adaptive damping, adjustable through the comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency and individual modes of the standard Audi drive select driving modes system. As before in an A3, models with an output of 150PS or more get properly sophisticated multi-link rear suspension. Lots of work has been put into the company's torque vectoring system - Audi calls its set-up 'wheel-selective torque control'. As usual with this type of technology, should the front wheel on the inside of the corner lose grip at high speed, this feature intervenes with a slight brake application. The difference in drive forces turns the car into the bend, allowing the car to follow the steering angle precisely.

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Pictures (high res disabled)

Statistics (subset of data only)

Min

Max

0-62 mph (s):

8.2

Boot capacity min (litres):

380

1200

Combined mpg:

41.5

Max Speed (mph):

137

Price:

24900

Scoring (subset of scores)

Category: Compact Family Cars

Performance
70%
Handling
70%
Comfort
70%
Space
70%
Styling, Build, Value, Equipment, Depreciation, Handling, Insurance and Total scores are available with our full data feed.

This is an excerpt from our full review.
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