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Audi A3 1.9 TDIe: Test Drive

Date: 30 May 2008   |   Author: Tom Webster

Category: Lower medium
Prices: £14,995-£27,720
Key rival: BMW 1-series

At first glance, little has altered on the facelifted A3. It's less cosmetic surgery than applied new make-up.

The most noticeable exterior change is the new front grille that freshens up the A3's face, while inside the chrome surrounds to the air inlets catch the eye.

Audi A3.gif

There are other little adjustments that add to the appearance of what is already a desirable car, but they're so subtle they take some finding.

So, with waiting lists lengthening for the low-emitting, company car tax-friendly 1.9 TDIe (that's an 'e' for environment), Audi has sensibly chosen not to tinker radically with a winning formula that includes fuel consumption of 62.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 119g/km.

Often, such benefits are achieved by compromising engine refinement and noise. Audi has managed to minimise the discomfort, however, and the 1.9 diesel is not as clattery as we thought it might be. There is an increase in decibel levels over other engines, but it's not too much to suffer as you feel you're doing your bit for the planet.

Brand new to Audi's range is a parking assist system that sizes up a spot and automatically steers the car in, although it's no substitute for practicing the manual method. But the real changes to the A3 come to the model range - smooth shifting seven-speed S-tronic automatic gearboxes (an evolution of the clever dual-clutch system used across the VW Group) are now available on the 1.6, 1.4TFSI and 1.8TFSI engines. The S3 now comes in five-door Sportback bodystyle, too, and the 2.0 TDI from the A4 joins the line up.