While the smart lines of Audi’s latest A3 Sportback may not represent a radical departure from its previous incarnations, this is a car clearly capable of turning heads.
To its credit, it strikes an impressive balance between offering strong practical everyday motoring underpinned by a decidedly sporty-edge.
This is largely thanks to its surprisingly spritely 1.4 turbo engine, which frankly punches above its weight under a range of test conditions.
While there are several other options available including two diesel variants, the petrol version is perhaps going to be the one that may well have the biggest impact.
As you would expect from Audi, this feels like a car that has been extremely well put together, right from the exterior styling to the quality of its interiors.
On first inspection, for a three-door hatch, this has commendable road presence and the SE model boasts a lowered suspension that lends its some strong credentials in the performance stakes.
The car’s 17-inch alloy wheels are a striking feature and underline its sporting aspirations, as does its impressive s-tronic six-speed gearbox that is particularly responsive, as well as being conscious of economy.
It achieves the latter through featuring a shift indicator for optimum change points to prevent excessive fuel use, which is something that will doubtless be welcome to many drivers all too aware of the ever-mounting cost of petrol.
Though there’s a commendable focus on efficiency (with economy figures of 43mpg), this is crucially also an immensely enjoyable car to drive.
Its handling is crisp and despite being pre-loaded with a whole raft of computer enhanced features including advanced adaptive xenon headlights and sophisticated SAT nav aids, there’s a sense this is very much a drivers’ car with real spirit.
For the size of its base-model engine, the 1.4 SE is clearly no slouch, offering a 0-62 time of 9.3 seconds, which is reflected in its agile handling through a broad spread of road conditions. Its firm suspension thankfully is pretty forgiving enough on urban road conditions, which is not always the case for vehicles within its class.
The car’s surprisingly generous interiors are immaculate. Its extremely comfortable leather seats are matched by the quality of its core dash displays being stylish, logically placed and just as importantly- easily legible.
Audi A3 Sportback 1.4 TFSI SE
- Power 122ps
- Emissions 123g/km
- £19,000-£25,000 (before options), which include featuring;
- 17 inch alloy wheels
- Dual-zone climate control
- Parking sensors
- SAT nav
- Aluminium window trim
- 17 inch alloy wheels
Its standard specification includes subtle interior lighting, dual zone climate control, plus the options for aluminium trim and light and rain sensor package - which switch on headlights and windscreen wipers as conditions change.
There’s also a particularly refined sound system that will doubtless be another plus point in a number of potential buyers’ minds.
In terms of practicalities, the A3’s boot storage is relatively ample, especially with its rear seats folded. Though its compact, sporting nature means it is unlikely to be attracting interest from those seeking roomy family-motoring.
All in all, this is an impressive car that is packed full of the class-leading characteristics that have made Audi a firm favourite for business customers in particular. Strong on looks, efficient and practical, this is another winner from the German giants.