What is it?
We already know that the new, third-generation Audi A3 is a good thing, its chassis providing a smoother ride and defter handling besides. And when it’s powered by a revised, slightly lighter TFSI engine equipped with variable valve lift, you get 7.2sec 0-62mph sprinting potential and a competitive (if bettered by Alfa’s 121g/km Multiair TCT Giulietta) CO2 output of 130g/km, as well as a seven-speed S Tronic dual clutch transmission as standard.
What is it like?
It’s a combination that allows for effortlessly fast-paced progress, although your advance, surprisingly, will be slightly smoother if you paddle yourself, the transmission occasionally jerking and not always serving the ideal gear if your need for speed is acute. Manual overrides can sometimes expose a torque hole at the bottom end of the engine’s otherwise lusty mid-range delivery, too.
This engine makes quite good noises though, to produce a lightly satisfying drive despite these small criticisms. This is not a hot hatch or even a terribly warm one when it comes to tactile engagement – the slightly slow-acting steering doesn’t help here – but it’s capable enough to entertain and a very effective mile compactor.
This new A3’s interior is even more finely crafted than the previous (impressive) iterations, and you can furnish yourself with a very pleasing cabin indeed with a modest foray into the colour and trim catalogue. The Sport trim sampled here provides racier seats, dual-zone climate control and sport suspension, although for no extra cost you can order the standard set-up which will almost certainly better suit British roads with no significant trade-off in body control unless you’re a track day lover.
Should I buy one?
If it’s a fast A3 that you want then this is the one for now, but as a more practical, cheaper-to-run all-rounder, we’d go for the 1.6 TDI.
Audi A3 1.8 TFSI Sport
Price £24,410; 0-62mph 7.2ec; Top speed: 144mph; Economy 50.3mpg; Co2 130g/km; Kerbweight 1250kg; Engine petrol, 1798cc; Power 178bhp at 5100-6200rpm; Torque 184lb ft at 1250-5000rpm; Gearbox 7-spd dual clutch