When you picture an Audi you might imagine a high-priced luxury SUV such as the $150,000 Audi Q8 or a ferocious performance car like the circa-$250,000 Audi RS6 Avant, but the Audi A3 is a much more accessible machine.
Prices start at about $52,000 drive-away for the base 35 TFSI Sportback variant and rise to about $60,000 for the 40 TFSI version we tested.
It has flamboyant 18-inch alloy wheels, LED lighting and S-Line sporty styling pack.
Inside, owners are treated to leather appointed seats, a fully digital dash with a crisp, high-res sat nav display and ambient cabin lighting.
Manually adjustable seats and no radar cruise control are a let-down.
ITFEELS VERY FAMILIAR
Audi is part of the giant Volkswagen Group that builds vehicles across a range of brands including VW, Skoda and Bentley, and many of its cars share their underpinnings with a wide range of vehicles.
The A3 is built on the same platform as the Volkswagen Golf, Skoda Octavia, Audi Q3 SUV and the soon to arrive Cupra Formentor.
They all share many components including engines, transmissions and digital screens.
Audi has applied its own styling and finesse to the A3 to make it feel and look different, but the end result is a VW Golf from another dimension.
The base example scores a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine that makes 110kW and 250Nm. The 40 variant we had gets a bigger 2.0-litre unit making 140kW and 320Nm and adds all-wheel drive traction instead of front-wheel drive.
The extra power and grip drops the 0-100km/h time from 8.4 seconds to seven seconds flat.
Audi claims the 40 TFSI will drink 6.7L/100km, which isn’t too shabby for a small car with a bit of grunt.
If this all sounds too pedestrian for you then the S3 is the go. It uses a potent 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine making 228kW and 400Nm to deliver a 0-100km/h sprint time of just 4.8 seconds. A-soon-to-arrive Audi RS3 turns the dial all the way up.
IT’LL MAKE YOU SMILE
The A3 Sportback shows why those who love to drive chose a hatchback or sedan over an SUV.
Its lower ride height and weight make the A3 more composed on the road.
Firmish suspension, all-paw grip and light and fast steering make for an entertaining drive on a back country road.
It feels brisk off the mark and zippy in traffic and has no problems bounding up steep hills or overtaking on the highway.
The dual-clutch auto can take a minute to decide what it wants to do when you put your foot down so be aware when attempting to punch through tight gaps at intersections.
YOU’VE GOT OPTIONS
The Audi A3’s price is enticing, but when you look deeper you might find you’ll need to tick a few boxes to get the car you really want.
Metallic paint will set you back $1250, 18-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels add a further $500 and a premium Bang and Olufsen is another $1500.
If you want electronically adjustable and heated front seats, radar cruise control, a head-up display that projects vital information onto the windscreen and sharp looking aluminum interior inserts you’ll need to pony up an extra $4500.
If a hatchback isn’t for you, then you can have the A3 in a sedan body shape that adds about $2000 to the price of the 40 TFSI.