From £20,820
The Audi A3 Sportback adds some useful practicality to the A3 range, without sacrificing driveability or appeal
Autocar
13 November 2012

What is it?

The latest and biggest addition to the Audi A3 range. It adds an extra two doors to the recently-launched three-door hatchback, and is expected to take two out of three A3 sales.

Audi is quick to point out that the Sportback is not simply a five-door A3 – it has added 58mm between the front and rear wheels to create more interior space. That manifests itself as extra room for rear passengers and a larger boot. For that extra interior flexibility, Audi asks an additional £620 over the equivalent three-door.

The front axle has been moved forward by 40mm compared with the old car, creating a shorter overhang. The Sportback uses a McPherson suspension arrangement up front, with a four-link rear set-up at the rear. 

Predictably weight has increased. The car tested here has gained an additional 30kg over the three-door, which has had a marginal impact on its on-paper performance and fuel economy. But you’d have to test them side by side to notice. Even with the weight increase, it is still substantially lighter than the car it replaces.

The 2.0-litre TDI engine we’re testing here will account for around 40 per cent of this model's sales. It’s a comprehensively worked-over version of the engine from the old car, but Audi has done enough to keep it among the class best. The engine will be initially offered with a 148bhp output, but a 181bhp version will arrive next spring.

What's it like?

Like the old A3 Sportback, but better in virtually every regard. Our test car was in entry-level SE trim and shod with small (for an Audi) 16-inch wheels. While they do wonders for the ride, Audi buyers like a little more in the diameter department, so we’ll have to wait until cars arrive in the UK to deliver a definitive verdict. Certainly, on smooth French blacktop, and on these wheels, the ride was supple, quiet and comfortable.

The steering offers more engagement than before. It is still a couple of steps behind the class best – a slightly artificial tone sees to that – but it is accurate and consistent. Our test car was fitted with the optional Audi Drive Select system which beefs up the experience through Comfort to Dynamic modes.

The latest development of the 2.0-litre TDI engine is stronger than ever. It feels like it offers more urge than the unit it replaces, and it feels fractionally quicker than its 8.7sec 0-62mph time suggests. It achieves this benchmark one tenth slower than the hatchback, but its v-max is unchanged at 134mph.

Cabin noise is well suppressed, although it is slightly less refined than the 1.6-litre entry-level TDI unit. The gearchange isn’t as precise as that mated to the smaller engine either. But in isolation, the 2.0-litre turbodiesel and six-speed manual gearbox are an exceptionally strong pairing.

Should I buy one?

Yes. If you’re buying an A3, you’d be well advised to choose the Sportback, with its useful additional space. There’s no discernable impact on performance or economy, and to these eyes, the styling is every bit as attractive.

Back to top

You’ll find extra equipment fitted to its cousin, the Volkswagen Golf, but any extra you spend speccing an A3 to Golf levels will likely be recouped when you come to sell.

The A3 Sportback is, by any measure, an improvement on the old model. But with genuine rivals emerging from within the VW Group stable, the appeal of the brand is more important than ever.

Stuart Milne

Audi A3 Sportback 2.0 TDI SE

Price £22,125; 0-62mph 8.7sec; Top Speed 134mph; Economy 67.3mpg; CO2 108g/km; Kerb weight 1310kg; Engine 1968cc, 4 cyls, turbodiesel; Power 148bhp at 3500rpm; Torque 236lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
18
Add a comment…
SteveB 19 November 2012

A3 or Golf pricing - Golf more expensive

If you fire up the configurators side by side, no matter which model you choose, you'll find that similarly spec'd/powered Golfs & A3s cost either the same amount of money (or the Golf is more expensive) once you've finalised the configurator.  In fact (choosing "S line", Petrol, manual, FWD) the 140bhp Golf TSi is £24,950, against £24,960 for the 180bhp "S Line" A3 (so your paying the same money for a 140bhp Golf/180bhp A3 of the same spec).  The 1.4 Golf is £2,490 more than the S line 122bhp A3. The A3 comes with xenon lights & 18" wheels as standard, whilst these are options on the Golf. The spec is otherwise pretty much exactly the same. This pricing is as it should be in my opinion, as the Golf is at least as high quality as the A3, and has a more luxurious feel internally than the A3.  I suspect that any discounts will be easier to get on the A3 too. The Golf should hold it's value slightly better than the A3, so the extra outlay for the Golf, will be recovered over time. The lesson here, if your choosing between the two,  is that A3s are often cheaper than many Golfs on the road today - although, I'd definitely say that you can see the extra money in the Golf.

Z1000 17 November 2012

Audi Bashing

what's with all the audi bashing ! I bought an s-line A3 5 years ago and have been very happy with mine, it was £23K list price then whereas today's model is still £25K, £2K inflation in 5 years is barely a price rise not when many family hatchbacks appear to have doubled in price in that time. The new golf and leon may be good cars but spec them up and they are both well north of £20K. The audi might cost you £2k more but you will suffer far less depreciation and therefore lower lifetime costs. 

foot of our stairs 16 November 2012

Dull

Audi have realy turned up the dull controll to 11 on this one,

A few years ago they made sharp we laid out an proportioned cars. Now they are ugly like the Q or like this, so boring. Take the Mini Countryman in any measurable  way a lesser vehicle , but warts and all I would sooner have one, i fear even the optional red stiched gear knob and stupid  fat alloys won't  save this from being the most boring Audi in history,