The Audi A3 retains its character, but stop-start does bring compromises
New engine plus stop start result in 109g/km of CO2 and 68.9mpg averages
Interior is standard Audi A3 fare - which can only be a good thing
First DriveMost frugal model in the Audi A3 range thrills with impressive economy, but it lacks dynamic sparkle
First DriveOur first drive of the new Audi A3 in the UK has revealed it to be a good, capable companion if slightly lacking in ambition
What is it?
This is an otherwise familiar A3 fitted with Audi’s new 1.6-litre common rail diesel engine, featuring a stop-start system and braking energy recuperation tech to deliver just 109g/km of CO2 and a claimed combined economy figure of 68.9mpg.
The engine replaces the 1.9-litre unit previously fitted to the TDI and TDIe A3 and A3 Cabriolets.
What’s it like?
Engine aside, this is a regular A3, so you get a solid, refined quality interior, handsome looks and a degree of premium badge kudos.
Under the bonnet, that new diesel engine delivers smooth and refined power once on the move, but with just 104bhp available performance isn’t stunning.
Also, it’s gruff at start-up and tickover, so the stop-start function can make its presence felt. It’s not intrusive but it’s certainly noticeable, and the switch from cabin silence to background diesel grumble, and back again, takes some getting used too.
However, the payoff contributes to those impressive CO2 and mpg figures, with economy in the mid to high-50s within easy reach and 60-plus mpg achievable without compromising your driving style to an extreme degree.
Should I buy one?
If you’re after a frugal premium diesel hatch then the Audi’s economy and CO2 figures are hard to ignore.
Taken within the context of the A3 range the 1.6 TDI makes economic sense, but the Audi’s price premium over a Golf using essentially the same 1.6-litre engine in regular TDI or Bluemotion form may have you tempted to head in VW’s direction.