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TESTED: Audi A3 Sportback is a strong contender in the compact premium market

Published Jan 3, 2022

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REVIEW: Audi A3 35TFSI Sportback by Justin Jacobs

I RECENTLY got behind the wheel of the latest Audi A3. I’ve always been a fan of the A3 which seems to remain a popular offering within the Audi stable. The latest model offers a host of new design features as well as technology which has definitely elevated its appeal.

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From a styling perspective the new Audi A3 features a striking front end design with sharp angular designs that compliment the large and iconic Audi grille. The LED headlights feature a unique DRL design as well which I like. Overall the front looks modern and mature with a balance of sporty characteristics.

The side profile is also eye-catching and I particularly like the flared wheel arches which are only noticeable from some angles. The rear, while not as potent in its design as the front makes use of new LED tail lights. I don't particularly like the fact that there are specific design elements where the exhausts should be. It’s strange that effort would be put on specifically designing fake exhaust outlets? Nevertheless, from a distance they do add to the overall look of the car.

The interior of the new A3 is a massive upgrade on the model that it replaces. Audi has elevated the overall feel of its compact offering to feel very grown up, however, in some aspects, retaining a youthful appeal. All of this can be had in a well built package which consists of top-quality materials.

I particularly like the fact that the facia is somewhat void of buttons. All the vehicle control functions happen through the large infotainment screen. The system offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, the latter being wireless. Below the screen is an easy to use climate control system and below that is the centre console. Here you will find a touch sensitive volume pad-thingy and the start/stop button. You will also find a new gear-lever or should I say toggle. It is a small little thing that looks like a mini-electric shaver. While it frees up space I’m not quite sold on it. I feel as if there is now too much blank space around the console, anyways…

Overall I like the facia design, particularly the fact that the driver side air vents have been elevated; this, in conjunction with the digital instrument cluster gives a real fighter jet like experience, if fighter jets had flat bottomed steering wheels that is. I’m also a fan of the ambient lighting which can be found throughout the cabin.

Ok, now on to the engine and here's the thing. Many cars these days have become so incredibly fast for no reason whatsoever. This A3 35TFSI, while not the fastest little thing around, is still pretty quick. However, it's fun fast. I stepped out of a BMW M3 before getting into this and that M3 was just scary fast. It felt dangerous at times and in order to have fun I had to vacate the busy streets and find a quiet back road. With the A3, however, I was able to exploit its performance just about everywhere.

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One day, going home quite late from the office I put it into Dynamic mode and just drove the nuts off of it. It did not disappoint. The chassis feels really good, the gearbox is fast, smooth and without hesitation and the motor is eager. That motor is indeed a 1.4-litre turbocharged unit that develops 110kW and 250Nm of torque. When I wasn't driving like a bit of a hooligan the A3 returned an average consumption figure of around 6.8l/100km.

Overall the new A3 has a lot on offer in terms of its driving dynamics, design and features. Unfortunately the new A3 does carry a rather hefty price-tag, as is the case with many premium vehicle brands these days. Regardless, the A3 remains a strong option in the segment and should be considered.

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Audi A3 Sportback 35TFSI

Price: R575 000

Engine: 1.4-litre, 4-cyl, turbopetrol

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Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Drive: Front-wheel drive

Power: 110kW @ 5 000-6 000rpm

Torque: 250Nm @ 1 500-3 500rpm

0-100km/h: 8.2 seconds (claimed)

Top speed: 219km/h (claimed)

Fuel use: 6.2 l/100km (claimed)

Fuel use: 6.8 l/100km (tested)

Boot space: 380-1 200 litres

Warranty: 1-year/unlimited km

Maintenance plan: 5-year/100 000km

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