This powerful mid-range petrol version of the new A3 comes with a slightly flawed S-Tronic transmission

What is it?

We already know that the new, third-generation Audi A3 is a good thing, its chassis providing a smoother ride and defter handling besides. And when it’s powered by a revised, slightly lighter TFSI engine equipped with variable valve lift, you get 7.2sec 0-62mph sprinting potential and a competitive (if bettered by Alfa’s 121g/km Multiair TCT Giulietta) CO2 output of 130g/km, as well as a seven-speed S Tronic dual clutch transmission as standard.

What's it like?

It’s a combination that allows for effortlessly fast-paced progress, although your advance, surprisingly, will be slightly smoother if you paddle yourself, the transmission occasionally jerking and not always serving the ideal gear if your need for speed is acute. Manual overrides can sometimes expose a torque hole at the bottom end of the engine’s otherwise lusty mid-range delivery, too.

This engine makes quite good noises though, to produce a lightly satisfying drive despite these small criticisms. This is not a hot hatch or even a terribly warm one when it comes to tactile engagement – the slightly slow-acting steering doesn’t help here – but it’s capable enough to entertain and a very effective mile compactor. 

This new A3’s interior is even more finely crafted than the previous (impressive) iterations, and you can furnish yourself with a very pleasing cabin indeed with a modest foray into the colour and trim catalogue. The Sport trim sampled here provides racier seats, dual-zone climate control and sport suspension, although for no extra cost you can order the standard set-up which will almost certainly better suit British roads with no significant trade-off in body control unless you’re a track day lover.

Should I buy one?

If it’s a fast A3 that you want then this is the one for now, but as a more practical, cheaper-to-run all-rounder, we’d go for the 1.6 TDI.

Audi A3 1.8 TFSI Sport

Price £24,410; 0-62mph 7.2ec; Top speed: 144mph; Economy 50.3mpg; Co2 130g/km; Kerbweight 1250kg; Engine petrol, 1798cc; Power 178bhp at 5100-6200rpm; Torque 184lb ft at 1250-5000rpm; Gearbox 7-spd dual clutch

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Will86 3 August 2012

Just go for a 1.4TFSI

The 1.4 TFSI is substantially cheaper than the diesels, hits 60mph in just over 9 seconds, yet only emits 120g/km CO2 and does over 50mpg. Seems the obvious choice to me.

ewanmac76 15 October 2012

1.4

Totally agree that the 1.4 is the one to go for. Wasnt a fan of the old A3 - the golf was cheaper and far better to drive, however having just driven the new one, it is significantly better. You need to go for a sport or s line to get the Audi drive select which made a big difference to the steering weighting and throttle response when in dynamic mode.  In normal mode, it wasn't half as good. The interior is fantastic and the pcp deal we managed to get came in at £251 a month for a 1.4t sport back sport with metallic and sat nav is great. Will wait and try the mk7 golf but very tempted with this.

A34 31 July 2012

"Mostly harmless"

... springs to mind as a description. Noted is that this is the 3door (so its a pseudo-sporty drive?); the 5door probably is quite nice as a high-cost posh-Golf / 1-Series competitor. Presumably the real-sporty set have to go for the 2.0TSi with Quattro? 

Peter Cavellini 31 July 2012

Another one!

Like London buses....none for an age, then three turn up at the same time,what a bvoring car anyway.