Audi A3 1.6TDI

Our verdict on new 70mpg premium hatchback

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Launched in 2003, the Audi hatch is getting on a bit now – a replacement is due in the next few years. But this new 1.6-litre TDI diesel engine ensures it’s still a great choice. Stop-start helps to provide amazingly low running costs, while it still offers strong performance, too. This entry-level diesel our pick of the A3 line-up. 

With head-turning concepts such as the e-tron – which previews the new R4 (Top Story, Issue 1,098) – Audi is on a roll at the moment. But away from the limelight of  motor shows, the firm hasn’t been forgetting its bread-and-butter models, like the A3.

The classy compact hatch has just benefited from a new entry-level 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine. And this should make it more popular than ever, thanks to its incredible efficiency.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Audi A3

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The unit features stop-start, plus a clever alternator which stores energy from braking, and emits only 109g/km of CO2. So, the newcomer has an annual road tax bill of £35, and returns a staggering 68.9mpg combined.

These low running costs are sure to appeal to company car drivers and private buyers alike. Yet they don’t come at the expense of performance.

While the new common-rail diesel’s 104bhp output doesn’t sound like much, it also delivers 250Nm of torque. That means the car is really responsive, and feels faster than the 0-62mph time of 11.7 seconds suggests.

This is in spite of the five-speed box’s long, economy-minded ratios – a six-speeder would make the A3 quicker still.

Refinement is good. The unit sounds much smoother than the old 1.9-litre Pumpe Düse, and the stop-start works well, firing the engine back up as soon as you put your foot on the clutch when at a standstill.

As for the rest of the A3 experience, it’s business as usual. The steering could do with more feel and weight, but the handling is sure-footed. Plus, the adjustable driving position, upmarket materials and logical design mean the cabin is simply brilliant. Our car looked great in top-of-the-range S line trim, although at £21,320, it’s expensive.

We’d go for the £19,240 SE model. It misses out on the S line’s gorgeous 17-inch multispoke wheels, but still gets alloys and other goodies, such as air-conditioning.

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