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Audi A3 1.6 TDI

Price: £18,315, CO2 emissions: 99g/km

YES, it is possible to beat the taxman and drive a prestige car – just look at the A3 1.6 TDI. With supermini-rivalling figures of 99g/km and 74.3mpg, it is perfect for buyers with champagne tastes and a beer-sized budget.

Boasting the same handsome and classy looks as other models in the line-up, the Audi gives few clues to its eco credentials from the outside. Even the 15-inch alloys and low rolling resistance tyres fail to dent the A3’s visual appeal.

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Inside you’ll find the same beautifully crafted cabin as the standard car. Despite its entry-level status, the 1.6-litre TDI gets plenty of kit, including air-con, ESP and electric windows. There’s space for five adults, although the three-door-only layout means rear access is tight.

There are no compromises to the driving experience. The 1.6-litre diesel is shared with the VW Golf BlueMotion and serves up strong straight-line pace. Accurate steering and small dimensions help with nimble cornering, while the firm ride is composed. It’s only when you come to a halt that the car’s eco tweaks are obvious, as standard stop/start kills the engine to save fuel. Other efficiency-boosting additions include regenerative braking and a useful gearshift indicator.

There is one catch: at £18,315, the Audi is £535 more than the equally green Golf. However, for some drivers its prestige appeal will be worth every extra penny.

Rating: ****

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