What is it?
Audi’s strong-selling A3 has always impressed with an alluring combination of style, quality, dynamics and refinement. And that continues to be the case with this lightly facelifted version, not least in 2.0 TFSI guise as driven here.
In keeping with previous generations, the mid-life styling changes are mild and do not involve any sheet metal changes. At the front, there are revised headlights with optional matrix LED operation, a more angular single-frame grille and a reprofiled bumper.
The rear adopts revised tail-lights and a lightly modified bumper, both of which are said to provide a greater emphasis on perceived width. Audi has also introduced new equipment lines and safety systems.
Bucking the downsizing trend, the new 1984cc TFSI engine delivers subtle improvements in performance and fuel economy, thanks in part to the adoption of an Atkinson cycle combustion process. Power has increased by 10bhp, to 187bhp, while torque is up by 52lb ft at 236lb ft. This engine is mated to a standard six-speed manual gearbox or a new, optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
What's it like?
With an S tronic dual-clutch automatic gearbox, the new 1285kg A3 2.0 TFSI is claimed to deliver a 0-62mph time of 6.7sec and a 152mph top speed. On standard 16in wheels it also delivers a 1.7mpg improvement in combined economy at 50.4mpg, while reducing CO2 emissions to 126g/km.
The A3 continues to impress with its high level of perceived quality. The overall precision evident in the fit and finish of the exterior is carried through to its excellent interior, which remains the undisputed standard-setter in the class.
Step inside and you discover a fine driving environment that’s easy to tailor thanks to a good deal of seat and steering wheel adjustment. The execution of the dashboard and its controls is superb, providing the facelifted Audi with a proper premium feel, especially when equipped with the optional Virtual Cockpit 12.3in high-definition instrument display.
The new 2.0 TFSI engine pulls nicely with a smooth and linear delivery all the way to the business end of the dial. Its strong torque loading imbues the new A3 with a lively nature away from the traffic lights and provides it with excellent mid-range flexibility in taller gears out on the open road.
The real achievement, though, is the inherent refinement. At anything below 4000rpm, the new four-cylinder is commendably hushed. Push it harder and there is some raspiness to the exhaust, although it lacks the more determined note of the significantly more powerful S3.
Power is put down quite effectively with only the odd pang of electronic intervention in standard front-wheel-drive guise, giving the A3 2.0 TFSI a sporting slant that will see it appeal to enthusiast drivers on suitable roads.
The MacPherson strut front and four-link rear suspension offers impressive fluidity and high progressive body movement, making for controlled handling and highly predictable on-the-limit traits. Steering response is superbly judged, too, with a light feel at low speeds around town and nice consistent weighting when the pace increases.
Should I buy one?
If you’re in the market for an A3 and are looking for an alternative to the default diesel purchase, the new 2.0 TFSI is well worth consideration. As well as providing lively performance, its new petrol engine delivers excellent everyday ease of use, impressive refinement and outstanding economy.
With resale values on diesels looking decidedly shaky following the revelations of the Volkswagen emissions scandal and its subsequent fallout, it could end up being a smart choice when it comes time to sell on. But at £27,015, it is not exactly cheap, costing nearly £2000 more than the A3 2.0 TDI.
Audi A3 2.0 TFSI
Location Munich, Germany; On sale now; Price £27,015; Engine 4 cyls, 1984cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 187bhp at 4200rpm; Torque 236lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox 7-spd dual clutch automatic; Kerb weight 1285kg; 0-62mph 6.7sec; Top speed 152mph; Economy 50.4mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 126g/km, 22%