Drive a VW Golf and an A3 one after the other and you’ll be left in no doubt as to the amount of leeway provided for each chassis team to tune each car to their requirements.With the Sportback, Audi has elected to hunt down every last scrap of ride quality it can extract from its raw material, and the good news is has produced what must be, by some margin, the finest-riding vehicle ever to visit this class of car.
As a bunch of testers brought up castigating Audi for its inability to bequeath even acceptable ride quality on even its most luxurious cars in the past, this is a welcome transformation for the better.
The car gives the impression of having a structure so massively stiff that you could drive it into a pothole big enough to swallow the entire car without it flexing. This unshakeable platform has allowed Audi to set up the A3 uncharacteristically softly and, perhaps aided by that small wheelbase extension, produce a ride normally associated with far larger, more expensive and luxurious cars.But there’s a catch: the Sportback is about as exciting to drive as watching television in a power cut. That’s not to say it’s a poor-handling car; for that, it would need some degree of ineptness or unpredictability, and nothing could be further from the truth.
On the contrary, the overwhelming impression it leaves is of a car that handles exactly as its maker intended and that they intended it to be stable, accurate and entirely undemanding of its driver. The fact that this also means there’s nothing to be found for the enthusiast on a decent road was either an irrelevance or regarded as a price worth paying for such predictability and that superlative ride.While we don’t expect it to behave like a Toyota GT86, some feel through the steering and life in the chassis would have been appreciated. Instead, you get a car that reacts to all attempts by the driver to have fun with, at best, grudging tolerance.