RAC

Audi A3 1.6 Range

"Things have changed a good deal since the early days when base A3 versions were about as well equipped as a Bulgarian thrift store"

The 102bhp engine isn't a bad powerplant per se; it's just that it has been overshadowed by the column inches given to the 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engine and the 2.0-litre TDi unit. Stack the current, facelifted 1.6-litre model up against less prestigious rivals and the bald statistics make sobering reading. The range opens at £14,995 for the base 3-door model, with the SE and Sport variants tacking a hefty £2,000 onto that asking price. Things have changed a good deal since the early days when base A3 versions were about as well equipped as a Bulgarian thrift store and these days even the entry-level 1.6-litre version comes with a respectable complement of kit. Of course, finding items like manual windows in what purports to be a premium hatch would really dent an owner's cool and the entry-level 1.6-litre A3 comes with electric front windows, electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors, 16-inch alloy wheels and a Thatcham category 1 alarm and immobiliser operated by a remote key fob. Having said that, the two features that most buyers look for when getting into a new car, namely air conditioning and a CD stereo, are inexcusably absent. Still, Audi haven't skimped on safety gear, the entry-level car getting the same ESP stability control, anti lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, ASR traction control, EDL electronic differential lock and twin front and side airbags as its more expensive SE and Sport siblings. The recent facelifted A3 model has seen improvements made to the car's appearance across the range.The front wings and the grille are a little shapelier, the headlights are sharper-looking and the side repeaters are now incorporated into the door mirrors. For the first time, the 1.6 model is also available as a sportsback for the more practically-minded customer. Choose to trade up to SE specification and you can expect to find climate controlled air conditioning, a CD stereo, cruise control, Vavona wood decorative inlays, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and seven-spoke alloy wheels. The identically priced Sport version runs on 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels and sports suspension, ditches the lumber on the fascia in favour of gloss finished inlays and adds aluminium sill strips, front sports seats, front fog lamps and a three rather than four-spoke leather trimmed steering wheel. Given that the cost to add the air conditioning and CD stereo from Audi's options list is already £1,300, it's likely only the irredeemably badge conscious will bother with the entry-level version.

Performance from the 1.6-litre engine is respectable, notching the sprint to 60mph off in 11.8 seconds and running on to 115mph. What's a little more surprising, given the A3's sophisticated image, is the aural accompaniment. Although it's only packing a mere 102bhp, blip the throttle and the throaty induction tones will lead you to believe there's at least fifty more horsepower up front. The emissions figure of 162g/km on the standard car is significantly superior to the 2-litre TFSI's 171g/km. All told, the engine is probably the least impressive feature of the A3 1.6. Longer, wider and lower than its predecessor, the current A3 is a car that will doubtless punt the A3 back into pole position as the item of choice for the discerning young professional. The most obvious change is the increase in wheelbase. The styling is largely evolutionary, remaining obviously an A3 with the Audi trademark 'single frame' grille, only looking a little stretched. The additional 65mm in wheelbase has rectified one of the old A3's faults, namely that rear seat accommodation was a bit pinched. The extra 30mm of width also helps a little with shoulder room. If you need more room, there's also a Sportback 5-door version with another 68mm of wheelbase in addition. The three-door versions were offered first, with these five-door Sportback cars following on. That mirrors the evolution of the old A3 range and, like the old A3, this version rides on Golf underpinnings. Not just any old Golf though. The A3 was the first car to use the 2004 model Golf chassis, a vehicle platform that allows for far more customisation than before. In a way, it's the Volkswagen Group's tacit admission that certain Audi/SEAT/Skoda/VW models of the past were a little too similar to justify their vastly divergent prices. The MkV Golf platform allows more far more components to be chopped and changed, making for more variation and more choice for customers. The cabin has been restyled to offer a little more design flair, Audi realising that high quality alone isn't enough to lure buyers into showrooms. There has to be some style on display too. The fascia struts ape the interior design of the TT, as do the round air vents and chrome-rimmed dials. It's still not what you'd call revolutionary, but it's beautifully executed. Although the entry-level version exists to give Audi a presence in the market at a £14,995 price point, most buyers won't countenance equipment levels below what the SE and Sport trims boast. Therefore, the effective opening price of the car for most buyers will be in excess of £16,000. Given that this will buy 197bhp of SEAT Leon, how can the 102bhp Audi A3 1.6 possibly justify its existence? Quite easily in fact. There will always be customers who want Audi A3s, who recognise that the four rings are a guarantor of cast-iron residuals and who now want a current rather than previous generation chassis. Despite it's modest power, the A3 1.6 is still a genuinely covetable depreciation-proofed bauble.

Facts at a Glance

Facts At A Glance CAR: Audi A3 1.6 range PRICES: £14,995-£18,895- on the road INSURANCE GROUPS: 9 CO2 EMISSIONS: 162g/km PERFORMANCE: [1.6] 0-60mph 11.7s / Max Speed 115mph FUEL CONSUMPTION: [1.6] (urban) 29.8 (extra urban) 53.3 (combined) 41.5mpg STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: Twin front, side and window airbags, electronic stability control, ABS. WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: Length/Width/Height 4203/1765/1421mm

Developing a new car is always a matter of compromise. The investment required to engineer a whole new car often means that costs need to be shared and new engines phased in over a period of months and, in many cases, years. The latest Audi A3 is a case in point. Many companies under the Volkswagen Group umbrella will share the chassis and some mouth watering new engines have been unveiled. The 1.6-litre that powers the entry-level versions is not one of them, but will British buyers mind? The range opens at around £15,000 for the base 3-door model, with the SE, Sportand S-line variants tacking a hefty £2,000 onto that asking price. Things have changed a good deal since the early days when base A3 versions were about as well equipped as a Bulgarian thrift store and these days even the entry-level 1.6-litre version comes with a respectable complement of kit. Performance from the 1.6-litre engine is respectable, notching the sprint to 60mph off in 11.8 seconds and running on to 115mph. What's a little more surprising, given the A3's sophisticated image, is the aural accompaniment. Although it's only packing a mere 102bhp, the throttle and the throaty induction tones will lead you to believe there's at least fifty more horsepower up front. The emissions figure of 162g/km on the standard car is significantly superior to the 2-litre TFSI's 171g/km. All told, the engine is probably the least impressive feature of the A3 1.6. There will always be customers who want Audi A3s, who recognise that the four rings are a guarantor of cast-iron residuals and who now want a current rather than previous generation chassis. Despite it's modest power, the A3 1.6 is still a genuinely covetable depreciation-proofed bauble.

Developing a new car is always a matter of compromise. The investment required to engineer a whole new car often means that costs need to be shared and new engines phased in over a period of months and, in many cases, years. The latest Audi A3 is a case in point. Many companies under the Volkswagen Group umbrella will share the chassis and some mouth watering new engines have been unveiled. The 1.6-litre that powers the entry-level versions is not one of them, but will British buyers mind? The 102bhp engine isn't a bad powerplant per se; it's just that it has been overshadowed by the column inches given to the 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engine and the 2.0-litre TDi unit. Stack the current, facelifted 1.6-litre model up against less prestigious rivals and the bald statistics make sobering reading. The range opens at around £15,000 for the base 3-door model, with the SE and Sport variants tacking a hefty £2,000 onto that asking price. Things have changed a good deal since the early days when base A3 versions were about as well equipped as a Bulgarian thrift store and these days even the entry-level 1.6-litre version comes with a respectable complement of kit. Of course, finding items like manual windows in what purports to be a premium hatch would really dent an owner's cool and the entry-level 1.6-litre A3 comes with electric front windows, electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors, 16-inch alloy wheels and a Thatcham category 1 alarm and immobiliser operated by a remote key fob. Having said that, the two features that most buyers look for when getting into a new car, namely air conditioning and a CD stereo, are inexcusably absent. Still, Audi haven't skimped on safety gear, the entry-level car getting the same ESP stability control, anti lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, ASR traction control, EDL electronic differential lock and twin front and side airbags as its more expensive SE and Sport siblings. The recent facelifted A3 model has seen improvements made to the car's appearance across the range.The front wings and the grille are a little shapelier, the headlights are sharper-looking and the side repeaters are now incorporated into the door mirrors. For the first time, the 1.6 model is also available as a sportsback for the more practically-minded customer. Choose to trade up to SE specification and you can expect to find climate controlled air conditioning, a CD stereo, cruise control, Vavona wood decorative inlays, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and seven-spoke alloy wheels. The identically priced Sport version runs on 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels and sports suspension, ditches the lumber on the fascia in favour of gloss finished inlays and adds aluminium sill strips, front sports seats, front fog lamps and a three rather than four-spoke leather trimmed steering wheel. Given that the cost to add the air conditioning and CD stereo from Audi's options list is already £1,300, it's likely only the irredeemably badge conscious will bother with the entry-level version. Performance from the 1.6-litre engine is respectable, notching the sprint to 60mph off in 11.8 seconds and running on to 115mph. What's a little more surprising, given the A3's sophisticated image, is the aural accompaniment. Although it's only packing a mere 102bhp, the throttle and the throaty induction tones will lead you to believe there's at least fifty more horsepower up front. The emissions figure of 162g/km on the standard car is significantly superior to the 2-litre TFSI's 171g/km. All told, the engine is probably the least impressive feature of the A3 1.6. There will always be customers who want Audi A3s, who recognise that the four rings are a guarantor of cast-iron residuals and who now want a current rather than previous generation chassis. Despite it's modest power, the A3 1.6 is still a genuinely covetable depreciation-proofed bauble.

Scores
Performance 5
Handling 6
Comfort 8
Space 7
Styling 9
Build 9
Value 6
Equipment 6
Economy 6
Depreciation 9
Insurance 6
Total 77

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