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Audi A3 1.8 TFSI

We've been impressed by the diesel Audi A3. So, how does the turbo-petrol version compare?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

You shouldn’t automatically choose diesel; this 1.8 TFSI is the most enjoyable version of the new A3, with excellent responsiveness and agility. The weight savings make it highly efficient, too. Its ride is still too firm, but customers can get round this with a range of settings and options. The only downside is that it looks too similar to its predecessor.

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If you want performance from your new Audi A3, and can’t wait for the flagship S3, the 1.8-litre TFSI is the fastest, most powerful engine in the range.

The 178bhp four-cylinder petrol model is 1.4 seconds quicker from 0-62mph than the 2.0 TDI, with a time of 7.2 seconds. And it beats the 1.4 TFSI - the only other petrol A3 – by 2.1 seconds.

The 1.8-litre is offered in both the Sport and range-topping S line models. It features a host of fuel-saving technology, such as direct fuel injection, stop-start and electro-mechanical steering.

Climb into the supportive and comfortable driver’s seat, start the engine and there’s a smooth hum at idle. Get this A3 moving and it’s more athletic around town than the diesel, with crisper in-gear response and sharp acceleration from a standstill. On motorways, the engine runs so quietly it’s almost silent.

Steering wheel-mounted shift paddles make it very easy to flick smoothly through the twin-clutch gearbox’s seven speeds, and under heavy throttle there’s a sweet turbo whistle over the familiar four-cylinder burble.

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This 1.8-litre petrol A3 is 30kg lighter than the 2.0-litre diesel, at 1,243kg, and it’s really evident on the road. There’s plenty of grip, it turns in sharply and the front end is responsive, so you can tackle corners with confidence.

The suspension works very well, but you’ll need to carefully adjust the set-up to match your personal taste. Audi Drive Select is standard on the Sport model, yet even in the softest Comfort setting, the optional 18-inch alloys on firm sports suspension made our test car’s ride too hard. Standard 17-inch alloys plus the regular suspension set-up (a no-cost option) is a better combination for drivers who place a premium on comfort.

The A3 1.8 TFSI is cheaper to run than you might think: it will return 50.4mpg and emits only 130g/km of CO2. Those figures are better than for the slower 1.4 TFSI version of the last A3.

Unless you cover high mileage – in which case the diesel is a better bet – this turbo petrol A3 strikes the best balance between driving fun and sensible costs.

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