First drive review: Audi A3

Redesigned from the ground up, Audi's new A3 hit the roads in the UK last month. But is it as good as the old one?

What is it?

This car doesn't need much of an introduction as it has been the wheels of choice for young, style-conscious professionals for years. It's the third generation of a very successful car from the German firm.

What's new?

You'd be forgiven for thinking it's the same as the previous A3. But look closely and you'll spot the changes. It's an evolution of the old one... and the one before that. It's totally new and has been designed from the ground up with reworked engines and a nicer interior.

Audi A3
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First drive review: Audi A3

What's under the bonnet?

Three tweaked engines delivering efficiency gains averaging 12 per cent: a 1.4-litre and 1.8-litre TFSI petrol, and a 2.0-litre TDI diesel. They all boast stop-start technology to lower fuel economy, but the diesel will probably take the lion's share of UK sales.

What's the kit like?

There's a choice of three specifications – SE, Sport and S Line. The SE model – which costs £19,205 – features 16-inch alloys and a multi-function steering wheel. Highlights of the top of the range S Line version include 18-inch alloys, S Line body styling and part leather upholstery. It costs from £22,580.

Any rivals?

Well the A3's two German arch rivals are the BMW 1 Series and the all-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class. The 1 Series is getting a little long in the tooth but the A-Class is totally new and could provide some stiff competition. Don't forget the cool Swede either – the new Volvo V40.

Is it any good?

It's excellent. We're not going to do the normal nit-picky thing of saying 'it's an Audi therefore it's Germanic, well-engineered but a bit dull'. It's refined and quite fun to drive and the engines are all good. Audi has somehow managed to move the game on compared to the old A3.

The Autoblog verdict

Audi has endured a few jibes because the new A3 looks rather similar to its predecessor. But go beyond the outward appearance and there is no shortage of progress under the surface. Confidence is high at Audi at the moment and this latest A3 will only serve to drive the marque forwards both in the UK and elsewhere.
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