Audi A3 Review: 2007 Model | A3 | Car Buyers Guide

2007 Audi A3 Review

With success comes greater ambition and this is certainly the case in modern Ireland. Not only are we doing better than ever before, but we are aspiring to better things. You only have to look at the incredible growth in sales of brands like BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz to see that our successful economy is leading us into more prestigious brands.

A few years back it was hard to get yourself into the right badge. But marques are trying to lure the young, as well as the ‘empty nesters’, into executive brands that once they might just have dreamed of owning. Audi has been at it for a while. Its A3 has been around for going on 11 years now and has been a big success for the manufacturer. It was a first step into a posh brand for many people and firms like Mercedes-Benz (A-Class) and BMW (1-Series) followed suit.

Now Volvo is keen to do the same. The brand is undergoing a big image change at the moment. While it was always respected, it was never seen as very sexy, as its blocky designs looked like they had been created by 4-year olds. Now cars like Volvo’s svelte S40 and sexy C70 turn heads as well as saving them. What’s more, with the C30 the Swedish firm hopes to get a younger audience to sit up and take notice of it and then, hopefully, stay with Volvo as their life changes.

Available only as a three-door and with no immediate plans to make it any bigger, the C30 certainly isn’t setting out to be a family car. Incredibly similar to the S40 from the nose to the A-pillars, things change dramatically when you get to the rear. Whether you like the styling is very much a subjective thing. At best it is a clever, innovative design. At worse, it is an awful-looking, bulbous rear end that ruins what is an otherwise smart design. This is very much up to you. The A3 has a very classy look that we are all very familiar with at this stage.

In its second incarnation (third if you include the single-frame grille design of late) it is a discreet design that is as instantly recognisable as it is coveted. The latest one is more of an evolution from the original model rather than a revolution. Though desirable, the A3 has always been regarded as being a little expensive for what it does. Criticisms that it is just a “fancy Volkswagen Golf” might be a little harsh, but certainly in lower-grade models the feeling that you are driving anything too remarkable is missing. Go up the range, however, and you can have a superb 2.0-litre TDi with 140bhp, and there is also the option of having the brilliant DSG gearbox, too. Or what about the simply splendid 2.0-litre TFSI from the Volkswagen Golf GTi? Volvo’s engine lineup for the C30 is equally wide.

Produced in Volvo’s factory in Ghent, Belgium, alongside the S40 and V50, it shares engines with them too. The 100bhp 1.6 and 125bhp 1.8 are from the Ford Zetec family. The 145bhp 2.0-litre is a Mazda unit, while the five-cylinder engines are Volvo’s own and come in 170bhp 2.4 and 220bhp T5 2.5-litre forms. The latter is the same engine that you will find in the Ford Focus ST. Diesels fans are catered for with a 1.6-litre 109bhp, 2.0-litre 136bhp and a 2.4-litre, five-cylinder, D5 turbodiesel. Both of these cars have similar starting prices at just over €26,000. So this really is an evenly paired match-up. Impressions of both upon entering the cabin are quite different.

The Audi has that usual excellence in the cockpit that we are used to by now. Everything feels very well bolted together and while our test car had a very dark cabin, it did feel first class. The Volvo is a really nicely made car, too. There are several different interior textures used, but they work well together. Some of the details are not quite up to the Audi’s, though. The monochrome display is disappointing and some of the plastics used are not quite as good as they are in the A3. So what are they like to drive? The A3 is an easy car to pilot and it would seem that the company is very aware of the varied mix of people that will be driving its cars.

The gear change is light and although the steering does not give as much feedback as it might, the road-holding is impressive. The Volvo is an incredibly comfortable car to drive and like so many of the cars in the firm’s range, it’s blessed with superb seats and a brilliant driving position. It shares a platform with the Ford Focus, so you would expect the handling to be good, but while it is certainly agile the steering is a lot more rubbery. The C30 holds the road well, but it is not a hot hatch. The brakes are strong and not as snatchy as the Audi’s.

The basic engines in these cars are likely to be the main sellers, and performance in both is little more than adequate. The Audi 1.6-litre is a 102bhp 4-cylinder with 148Nm of torque available. 0-100km/h takes 11.9 seconds and the maximum speed is 185km/h. Combined fuel consumption is 7.1 l/100km. The Volvo 1.6-litre is a 100bhp unit with similar torque – 150Nm. 0-100km/h takes 11.8 seconds and the top speed is 185km/h, so these figures are pretty much the same as the Audi’s. The fuel consumption figure of 7.0l/100km is pretty much identical, too. In terms of safety, the A3 gets ABS brakes, ESP, EBD brake proportioning and emergency brake assist. The Volvo is also loaded with safety kit. Different grades of steel are designed to control deformation in front and rear impacts, and side impacts are absorbed by SIPS (Side Impact Protection System, an arrangement of progressively collapsing crossbars under the seat mountings) plus side and curtain airbags. All four seatbelts have pre-tensioners, and the front seats have anti-whiplash headrests, which move forward in a rear impact. ESP is standard.


Audi A3

Engine: 1,595cc 4-cyl, 102bhp, 148Nm torque

Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive

Acceleration: 0-100 km/h in 11.9 seconds

Top Speed: 185 km/h 

Economy: 7.1 litres/100km 

Boot Capacity: 350 litres

Price: €28,975


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