Audi A3 Sportback TFSI

We hit UK roads in the entry-level version of the new Audi A3 Sportback to deliver our verdict

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

We've already sung the A3 Sportback’s praises for its usability and premium feel, and this 1.4 TFSI version is one of the best all-rounders in the range. It’s quiet and comfortable around town, while capable of brisk performance on a B-road. A few key premium features aren’t fitted as standard, but the class-leading build quality makes up for that.

As with the three-door A3, the five-door Audi A3 Sportback range kicks off with the 120bhp 1.4 TFSI model. So can the least powerful engine punch above its weight? We drove a UK-spec right-hand-drive car to find out.

Despite its limited capacity, the 1.4 TFSI is no slouch, with great response from standstill and excellent in-gear acceleration.

It’s super-smooth, too, with a faint turbo whistle to egg you on, making it a delight to drive. The six-speed manual has a light action and suits this entry-level A3 perfectly, although a DSG box is available for an extra £1,480 and uses slightly less fuel.

The ride in the entry-level SE is comfortable and compliant, although it can be a bit clunky over slow speed bumps. Firmer sports springs are offered, but the handling benefits can’t justify the reduction in comfort. Our main gripe, though, is with the steering, which is light and responsive, but offers little feedback.

The Sportback costs £620 more than the three-door, while fuel consumption in the 1.4 TFSI drops by 1mpg to 53.3mpg and CO2 emissions climb by 3g/km.

The benefit, apart from easier rear seat access, is more rear legroom and a 380-litre boot – identical to the new SEAT Leon. Standard equipment on the SE includes 16-inch alloys and a bootlid spoiler, while inside there’s a 5.8-inch colour display with the Audi Music Interface to connect your iPod or iPhone to, plus Bluetooth.

Audi is renowned for its cabins, and the Sportback’s is as solid as it is stylish, with silver inlays, steering wheel controls and comfortable supportive seats.

It’s possible to pick holes in this entry-level model, but as a complete package it’s hard not to be impressed. The engine is smooth, responsive and efficient, plus the car is easy to park in town and fun to drive on a country road. The only problem is that the same engine, with the same output and fuel economy, can be had in the new VW Golf for a few hundred pounds less.

However, if you have your heart set on buying an A3, the Sportback 1.4 TFSI is an affordable way to make it happen.

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