Given that the Audi A3 Sportback has five doors to the ‘standard’ A3’s three and its length has been extended by 33mm to improve room in both the rear seats and the boot, it is tempting to think of it as a long-wheelbase A3 and therefore the exception to the norm. It is nothing of the sort. Especially, when the A3 Saloon is a better depiction of that previous statement.
For a start and in purely technical terms, the Sportback is not just longer but fractionally higher and wider too. Moreover, in the showroom Audi expects it to outsell its littler sister two to one, so while the three-door launched first, if anything is to be regarded as the niche product, it certainly shouldn’t be the Sportback.
Most compelling of all, however, is that while the Sportback may indeed be larger than a three-door Audi A3, that does not make it a large car, even by class standards. A BMW 1 Series is longer both overall and in wheelbase, while the Mercedes-Benz A-Class is taller and also puts more air between its wheels.
What we have, therefore, is the most mainstream of mainstream Audis, the car designed to tempt young families into the fold of the four rings and provide enough talent and envious stares from the neighbours to make them never want to leave.
The range, therefore, could hardly be simpler with a 1.0, 1.4 or 2.0-litre TFSI choice of petrol engines and a 1.6 and 2.0-litre selection of diesels. All are turbocharged, and the 1.4 petrol is also available with Audi's Active Cylinder Technology, which cuts the number of cylinders under certain circumstances to preserve fuel. Gearbox choices are between a manual or dual-clutch automatic transmission.
There are five core equipment grades – SE, SE Technik, Sport, S-line and Black Edition, while there is a hybrid version of the Sportback known as the e-tron and a 305bhp mild fire-breathing S3. These are the current engine and trim lineups after the Sportback, along with the entire A3 range, was given a mild facelift. Chief changes include improved interiors, more standard equipment and refreshed lights and bumpers, while also saying goodbye to the second-generation RS3 - which surely will return in Sportback form, even though a saloon version has been earmarked for 2017, breathed on the newly formed Audi Sport division.
So does the extra space make the more-door Sportback more appealing than the sleek three-door Audi A3? Read on to find out.