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?
It’s Audi’s A3 with a reworked 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine, revised gear ratios, tweaked aerodynamics, low-resistence tyres and a ‘recommended gear’ display on the dash. The result is a CO2 figure of 119g/km, allowing the A3 TDI e to sneak under London’s proposed congestion charge cut-off.
What’s it like?
Frugal; we raised eyebrows at the claimed 62mpg but after a decent blend of motorway miles and urban crawl, we can believe it. But it’s noisy too. There’s real diesel clatter at start-up and it never really settles down; it sounds like a VW, not an Audi.
Curiously, the engine mods have resulted in a linear power delivery, with less turbo whoosh than most modern oil-burners. But then, if you use the suggested gears then you’ll spend most of your time rumbling along at between 1250 and 2500rpm anyway. It will cruise happily – but not silently – at motorway speeds, however.
Elsewhere it’s just an A3: beautifully finished and well laid out but not particularly spacious and, for the money, not that well equipped either.
Should I buy one?
Despite its good intentions, it’s hard to recommend a £16,600 hatchback on the grounds that it will save you money, either on the congestion charge or fuel. But if you want to pay for a patch of ethical high ground, go right ahead.