Sales enquiries: 0844 891 3111

RAC

Audi A3 1.6 TDI

Audi's cleanest A3 has 1.6-litre TDI diesel power. Steve Walker takes a look.

Preview

The default way for car manufacturers to outdo their rivals was once to cram more and more power into their products. Audi was better at this than most, witness the 444bhp S8 or the 572bhp RS6 for evidence of that, but today the old horsepower arms race can come across as slightly vulgar. In these more environmentally enlightened times, less fuel is starting to shape up as the modern day replacement for more power and Audi appears confident that it can steal a march on the competition here too. The latest three-door A3 with 1.6-litre common-rail diesel power manages just 99g/km of CO2 emissions comes within a whisker of achieving 75mpg on the combined cycle.

Ten Second Review

The 1.6-litre TDI A3 models are amongst the cleanest in the family hatchback class. Audi's stop-start technology and brake energy recuperation technology help the cars to nearly 75mpg and CO2 emissions of 99g/km.

Background

Anything over 70mpg is good going for any modern car but Audi has got there with a premium hatchback featuring all of the modern conveniences we've come to expect. This is a key feature of the marque's drive towards greater efficiency in its products. It's working to deliver the cost saving improvements without forcing customers to compromise on quality or the driving experience. That's the idea anyway. Unsurprisingly, arch rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz will lay claim to exactly the same policy.

Driving Experience

The arrival of the 1.6-litre common-rail injection engine in the A3 spelt curtains for the old 1.9-litre direct injection unit. Power and torque of 104bhp and 250Nm remain unchanged in this smaller capacity engine but the superior refinement and smoother power delivery usually associated with common-rail injection engines bode well for the experience out on the road. Performance was never going to be all that thrilling from the A3's entry-level diesel engine but the 1.6 TDI can get to 62mph in 11.4s before topping out at a 121mph top speed. That's not bad going but it means that only the entry-level 1.6-litre petrol engine is slower on paper.

Design and Build

In recent times, the A3 exterior has been tweaked but not in such a radical way that it put the kibosh on the residual value of the previous model. 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. The changes to the three-door car add 2.5cm to its length, while the five-door Sportback model's dimensions remain unchanged. If you haven't tried an A3 for some time, you might also appreciate a few of the well chosen changes lately made to the interior, courtesy of a cabin that previously was just starting to look a little off the pace in this department. Prior to this, even far more mundane cars like the Vauxhall Astra and the Fiat Bravo were beginning to show Audi the way forward in terms of materials quality. This current A3 ups the ante with more aluminium design elements, revised switchgear, a better quality instrument cluster and a rethink for the upholstery choices. Quattro four wheel drive is of course offered on certain variants. The luggage compartment of the three-door car features 350/1,080 litres of fresh air with rear seats in place and then folded, just pipped by the 370/1,220 litres of the Sportback.

Market and Model

The 1.6-litre TDI engine is available in the A3's three-door, five-door Sportback and Cabriolet bodystyles across the usual standard, SE, Sport and S Line trim level range but the most frugal fuel consumption figure and emissions return (the ones we've quoted here) come only with the three-door version. All models feature alloy wheels, air-conditioning, electric windows and a CD stereo.

Cost of Ownership

Behind the A3 1.6 TDI's headline-capturing economy figures are a series of modifications that Audi has made to the car. In the especially frugal three-door version we're looking at here, the key elements responsible for the efficiency gains include a modified final drive ratio for the standard five-speed manual transmission, a reduced ride height, under-body revisions to reduce aerodynamic drag and the use of slightly smaller 15-inch alloy wheels shod with low rolling resistance tyres. This car also gets a series of other tweaks common to use of the 1.6-litre TDI engine in other A3 bodystyles. Chief amongst them is the start-stop system which turns the engine off when the gear lever is in neutral and the clutch pedal is raised. Lower the clutch to move off and it takes just two tenths of a second for the engine to restart, so drivers shouldn't be left floundering, waiting for the system to kick in. Start-stop can be deactivated at the touch of a button but the energy recuperation system is always on. Here, kinetic energy that is usually lost when a vehicle brakes is recycled and used to recharge the battery, so there's less load on the engine when it's accelerating. It will still be tough to replicate the claimed 74.3mpg in real world driving but that's invariably the case with the official economy figures these days. What's certain is that this A3 will be one of the greenest cars of its kind around and that emissions of 99g/km will drop it into a refreshingly low group for road tax and save on those company car tax bills.

Summary

Audi is continuing to edge its cars in a greener direction and the 1.6-litre TDI A3 gives a reasonable approximation of how far it's got to date. Close to 70mpg from a premium hatchback is no mean feat and enough to put this entry-level diesel A3 up with the best that this sector of the market has to offer. The car uses Audi's start-stop and brake energy recuperation systems to achieve its sparkling performance at the pumps, technology that has very little impact on the way the car drives. Performance from the 1.6-litre engine isn't blistering but most owners will happily put up with that in exchange for the significant tax and running cost benefits.

Audi is continuing to edge its cars in a greener direction and the 1.6-litre TDI A3 gives a reasonable approximation of how far it's got to date. Close to 70mpg from a premium hatchback is no mean feat and enough to put this entry-level diesel A3 up with the best that this sector of the market has to offer. The car uses Audi's start-stop and brake energy recuperation systems to achieve its sparkling performance at the pumps, technology that has very little impact on the way the car drives. Performance from the 1.6-litre engine isn't blistering but most owners will happily put up with that in exchange for the significant tax and running cost benefits.

The latest Audi A3 with 1.6-litre common-rail diesel power puts out just 99g/km of CO2 and comes within a whisker of achieving 75mpg on the combined cycle. Anything over 70mpg is good going for any modern car but Audi has got there with a premium hatchback featuring all of the modern conveniences we've come to expect. Performance was never going to be all that thrilling from the A3's entry-level diesel engine but the 1.6 TDI can get to 62mph in 11.4s before topping out at a 121mph top speed. That's not bad going but it means that only the entry-level 1.6-litre petrol engine is slower on paper. The 1.6-litre TDI engine is available in the A3's three-door, five-door Sportback and Cabriolet bodystyles across the usual standard, SE, Sport and S Line trim level range but the most frugal fuel consumption figure and emissions return (the ones we've quoted here) come only with the three-door version. All models feature alloy wheels, air-conditioning, electric windows and a CD stereo. Behind the A3 1.6 TDI's headline-capturing economy figures are a series of modifications that Audi has made to the car. In the especially frugal three-door version we're looking at here, the key elements responsible for the efficiency gains include a modified final drive ratio for the standard five-speed manual transmission, a reduced ride height, under-body revisions to reduce aerodynamic drag and the use of slightly smaller 15-inch alloy wheels shod with low rolling resistance tyres. This car also gets a series of other tweaks common to use of the 1.6-litre TDI engine in other A3 bodystyles. Chief amongst them is the start-stop system which turns the engine off when the gear lever is in neutral and the clutch pedal is raised.

The default way for car manufacturers to outdo their rivals was once to cram more and more power into their products. Audi was better at this than most, witness the 444bhp S8 or the 572bhp RS6 for evidence of that, but today the old horsepower arms race can come across as slightly vulgar. In these more environmentally enlightened times, less fuel is starting to shape up as the replacement for more power and Audi appears confident that it can steal a march on the competition here too. The latest A3 with 1.6-litre common-rail diesel power puts out just 99g/km of CO2 and comes within a whisker of achieving 75mpg on the combined cycle. Anything over 70mpg is good going for any modern car but Audi has got there with a premium hatchback featuring all of the modern conveniences we've come to expect. This is a key feature of the marque's drive towards greater efficiency in its products. It's working to deliver the cost saving improvements without forcing customers to compromise on quality or the driving experience. That's the idea anyway. Unsurprisingly, arch rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz will lay claim to exactly the same policy. The arrival of the 1.6-litre common-rail injection engine in the A3 spelt curtains for the old 1.9-litre direct injection unit. Power and torque of 104bhp and 250Nm remain unchanged in this smaller capacity engine but the superior refinement and smoother power delivery usually associated with common-rail injection engines bode well for the experience out on the road. Performance was never going to be all that thrilling from the A3's entry-level diesel engine but the 1.6 TDI can get to 62mph in 11.4s before topping out at a 121mph top speed. That's not bad going but it means that only the entry-level 1.6-litre petrol engine is slower on paper. The 1.6-litre TDI engine is available in the A3's three-door, five-door Sportback and Cabriolet bodystyles across the usual standard, SE, Sport and S Line trim level range but the most frugal fuel consumption figure and emissions return (the ones we've quoted here) come only with the three-door version. All models feature alloy wheels, air-conditioning, electric windows and a CD stereo. Behind the A3 1.6 TDI's headline-capturing economy figures are a series of modifications that Audi has made to the car. In the especially frugal three-door version we're looking at here, the key elements responsible for the efficiency gains include a modified final drive ratio for the standard five-speed manual transmission, a reduced ride height, under-body revisions to reduce aerodynamic drag and the use of slightly smaller 15-inch alloy wheels shod with low rolling resistance tyres. This car also gets a series of other tweaks common to use of the 1.6-litre TDI engine in other A3 bodystyles. Chief amongst them is the start-stop system which turns the engine off when the gear lever is in neutral and the clutch pedal is raised. It will still be tough to replicate the claimed 74.3mpg in real world driving but that's invariably the case with the official economy figures these days. What's certain is that this A3 will be one of the greenest cars of its kind around and that emissions of 99g/km will drop it into a refreshingly low group for road tax and save on those company car tax bills. Audi is continuing to edge its cars in a greener direction and the 1.6-litre TDI A3 gives a reasonable approximation of how far it's got to date. Close to 75mpg from a premium hatchback is no mean feat and enough to put this entry-level diesel A3 up with the best that this sector of the market has to offer.

Scores
Performance 6
Handling 8
Comfort 9
Space 8
Styling 9
Build 10
Value 7
Equipment 7
Economy 9
Depreciation 8
Insurance 7
Total 88
Breakdown Cover
Choose a level of cover from just £27.99 a year
Breakdown Cover_img Join here