First DriveFirst UK drive finds the facelifted A3 Sportback e-tron remains a first-rate plug-in hybrid that is packed with tech if a little short on driver appeal
First DriveWe've driven the facelifted version of the ever-popular Audi A3 Sportback in 2.0 TDI guise on UK roads for the first time
What is it?
This is the cheapest way to get your hands on a new car with four rings on its grille, the entry-level Audi A3 1.4 TFSI. The turbocharged 1390cc four-pot gets everywhere these days, and we have been impressed with its ability to punch above its weight.
Stop-start technology, which is being slowly rolled out in various Audis, features and gives an even bigger boost to the unit’s impressive efficiency and emissions.
The 1.4-litre is almost 10bhp more powerful than the larger 1.6-litre FSI unit it replaces in both the A3 and A3 Sportback, and it propels the small Audi to 62mph in 9.4sec, which is respectable. The Co2 figure weighs in at 134g/km, which is also a leap forward over the 1.6.
What’s it like?
Once various levels have been reached, such as cabin and engine temperature, the stop-start comes into play. Unlike some similar systems the car must be taken out of gear and the clutch depressed before the engine dies, but this soon becomes second nature.
Power from the 1.4 TSI is adequate and while the car doesn’t feel as quick as the figures suggest, it has no problem keeping up with other traffic. As with any Audi the budget A3 embarrasses its rivals when it comes to interior quality and it feels as well screwed together as most other Audis in the range. Add to that lashings of understated style and you will feel a cut above other hatchbacks in this bracket.
The biggest bugbear is the ride, which again is similar to other cars in Audi’s range, the car rattling unnecessarily over small scars in the road, especially considering its modest power. The upside is fairly tidy handling, which is probably helped by the lightweight engine up front.
Should I buy one?
This is a fairly cheerful entry into the world of Audi, but sadly it's not that cheap. However, if build quality and looks are high on your priority list then it’s difficult to ignore.