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Audi A3 facelift Test Drive Review

Date: 01 June 2016   |   Author: John Mahoney

Category: Lower medium
P11D price: £25,280
Key rival: BMW 1-series
On sale: July 2016
Equipment: 6 airbags, xenon headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, cruise control, auto lights/wipers, satnav, climate control, autonomous emergency braking, 17in alloys
Engines: Diesel: 110hp 1.6, 150hp/184hp 2.0 Petrol: 115hp 1.0, 150hp 1.4, 190hp 2.0, 204hp 1.4 hybrid, 310hp 2.0
Trims: SE, SE Technik, Sport, S-line, S3
Transmissions: 6-spd manual, 6-/7-speed dual-clutch auto

'Subtle' doesn't quite do justice to Audi's facelift of the A3. Most will miss the changes and who can blame them?

Pull out a magnifying glass you might spot the wider front grille and narrower front lamps, but even then you'll struggle, not that being unable to distinguish old model from new will be of concern to Audi - that's because in just four years it's sold almost a million A3s, and whether a mild facelift is distinctive or not is unlikely to stand in the way of success like that.

The German car maker has, though, spent the mid-life development cash elsewhere. That's why for 2016 there are two new petrols: a 1.0-litre turbo and a more powerful 2.0-litre turbo. Both are particularly relevant for lower-mileage business drivers. The smallest 115hp engine is a case in point, combining sprightly performance (0-62mph in 9.7 seconds) with the ability to average 62.8mpg (while emitting 104g/km of CO2).

The faster 190hp 2.0-litre turbo, meanwhile, could be seen as a tax-efficient alternative to a hot hatch. It takes a brisk 6.7 seconds to reach 62mph but can average 50.4mpg while emitting just 126g/km of emissions.

Other improvements in the A3 range include life-saving autonomous emergency braking that can detect pedestrians and is now standard equipment, as well as brighter xenon headlamps with LED running lamps.
Inside, it's still impossible to fault the small Audi, and there's now even the option of Audi's Virtual Cockpit digital dash (£1395) that sounds ludicrously expensive but helps the A3's interior mimic the Q7 SUV that sells for twice the price.

For our test drive we focused on the best-selling 110hp 1.6-litre diesel that averages 72.4mpg. It's still not quiet around town and sometimes feels as if you're driving on rumble strips, but up the pace and the engine quietens down, making the A3 a comfortable place.

We have few complaints about the little 1.6 TDI's performance too - 0-62mph takes 10.5 seconds - and the smooth, quick, seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmission combines effortlessly with the engine.

The good news continues behind the wheel, and despite its age the A3 remains at the very top of the class for handling and rides well over poorly surfaced roads.

So, overall, it's business as usual. The A3 is still well-judged and is a fine all-rounder, but there's one area where the German hatch drops the ball and that's running costs: despite having the best residual values in its class, the Mercedes A-class pips it at the post and is cheaper to run.

Audi A3 Sportback 1.6 TDI Sport

Model price range £18,810-£34,460
Residual value 40.3%
Depreciation £15,080
Fuel £4068
Service, maintenance and repair £2111
Vehicle Excise Duty £40
National Insurance £2303
Cost per mile 49.7p
Fuel consumption 72.4mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 102/km (20%)
BIK 20/40% per month £84/169
Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space (min/max) 365/1100 litres
Engine size/power 1598cc/110hp


Mild updates bring valuable additions to the A3 range
  • Efficient
  • Cabin
  • Smooth low-taxing petrols
  • Well-equipped, great all-rounder
  • Unbeatable RVs
  • Noisy diesel 1.6, looks identical to the old c