It’s not that frequent that I have difficulty handing a car back to a manufacturer after a test drive. This week I did. I didn’t want to hand back the A3 saloon. I wanted more time with it. This isn’t my first time test driving this particular car; you may recall I had a chance to test one at its Irish launch. I was impressed then, but after a week with this particular vehicle I have to say that I’m nearly blown away.
Usually when I pick up a press car I make an effort not to ask too many questions about what I’m getting. I like to figure things out for myself and as well as that all manufacturers, and any business which is trying to sell you something, always point out their favourite and best attributes. I prefer to approach a car with my mind completely unbiased. If I have any questions I usually wait until I’m handing the car back before I ask them. Anyway, when I got this particular car I had a nice chat with the man from Audi who was handing over the keys and we avoided the subject of the car itself. I had a very quick glance around the car to ensure there was no damage that I could be accused of and I set off on my way to the Car Buyers Guide head-office in Sandyford, Dublin. This is when the first pleasant surprise hit me. The car was incredibly smooth. So smooth, in fact, that I wasn’t sure if I was driving a petrol or a diesel. For the entire journey between Ballsbridge and Sandyford I was telling myself that surely they gave me the 1.4 TFSI 125HP or the 1.4TFSI 140HP petrol engine, although I thought the confirmation they had sent me said that it would be a diesel. The second I parked in Sandyford I checked for sure and found that I was driving their 2.0 TDI 150HP model.
Steering of this Audi A3 Saloon is perfect and, to pilfer somebody else’s phrase, the gear changes were like cutting “a knife through butter”, and I’m not talking about butter just taken out of the fridge that you’d need a chisel just to get enough on a knife for a slice of bread which then destroys the bread because it won’t spread properly, nope, I’m talking about butter that’s been sitting out of the fridge for a while that you can very simply put your knife through. In short, the gears are perfect. Common enough in cars these days are gear-change indicators, this car has one and it hints at you when you should change gears – this process is to ensure a better and more fuel efficient drive.
The interior is very nicely laid-out. In typical Audi fashion once you turn the key in the ignition chamber the retractable screen appears from the dashboard. This is a stylish and comfortable interior. Legroom to the front can be more than adequate and getting two kids in the back is no problem. There may be legroom issues to the rear if you are trying to get a few adults in there but if you need more space on a regular basis go for the A4.
One of the few complaints I’d have about this car is however to do with the interior space. I wouldn’t consider myself to be the tallest man in the world. I’m just under six foot tall. I found the A3 to be lacking in the headroom department. To drive in my normal driving position was not an option and I had to lower the height of the driver seat. This is a complaint that I don’t have too often, and some of you may think that it’s a small complaint, but it would grate on me after a while.
The exterior of the A3 Saloon is not dissimilar to that of an A4. It is of course smaller but the curves which go through the Audi range are instantly recognisable. The press car which I drove was a “Brilliant Black” colour and it really stands out from the crowd.
Price, Tax, CO2, fuel economy, etc.
Prices for the A3 Saloon start at €29,950 and because of sub 100g/CO2 emissions the tax will be in the lower brackets. To maintain optimum fuel efficiency this vehicle comes with a “cylinder-on-demand” system: This deactivates two of your cylinders when you are cruising at low revs and when you want to get more out of the car it reactivates the other two cylinders – this process keeps CO2 emissions low and aids fuel efficiency.
As standard this car comes equipped with Start/Stop system, Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR) – this system prevents the wheels from spinning, a first-aid kit, a 5.8” QVGA colour display system – which electrically comes out of your dash when you turn the key, Bluetooth connectivity, alloy wheels, and much more. Optional extras include Adaptive Cruise Control, Audi Side Assist, Active Lane Assist, Audi MMI Navigation Plus with MMI Touch, and much more, of course you’ll need to get your cheque book ready if you’re in the market for extras.
The CBG.ie verdict
I meant it when I said I had difficulty giving this car back. It was a joy to drive. The only thing that bothered me is the lack of headroom, sadly this would deter me from purchasing this particular vehicle, but if you’re not as choosy as me in what position you like to drive in, and even if you’re the same height as me this car might just be the one for you!