Audi A3 Sportback 1.4 TFSI 122 Sport
Week ending March 14
Driven this week 400 miles
I borrowed the editor's A3 last weekend, which gave me time to judge how good our 2013 Car of the Year is. My Mazda 6 left us this week and is due to be replaced with the Saloon version of the Audi A3 with a 2.0-litre diesel engine.
If it's as good as the Sportback I'll be a very happy bunny. The ride is excellent on all surfaces and living with this car is so easy – the interior is a lesson in design and function, with all controls easy to use and operate, while the fit and finish are a league above its rivals'.
I also like the compact nature of the Sportback, although it's not too small for a trip to the local recycling centre; with the seats folded almost flat it easily swallowed a big load of rubbish. The perfect small family car? I'd certainly say so.
Week ending March 7
Driven this week 100 miles
The A3 Sportback's time with us is nearly up; in a couple of weeks we'll be trading in our 2013 Car of the Year for our 2014 Executive Car of the Year: the A3 saloon.
There will be a few differences beyond the fact that the new arrival has a regular boot instead of a hatchback. The main one is the engine, for while our Sportback has the 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine, our Exec choice is fitted with a 2.0-litre turbodiesel.
The new motor will have to go some to beat the 1.4, I have to say. Over almost 10,000 miles this 120bhp unit has been immensely capable; it has enough torque for you to drive it like a diesel around town, making it an extremely refined companion there, and it fades nicely into the background at motorway speeds to boot.
I guess its only potential weak spot has been B-roads, where it does need a bit of hard revving if you really want to get a move on. Perhaps that's where the 2.0 diesel will have an advantage; it's got a lot more torque, so it should be possible to keep it in a higher gear and still cruise up hills and through tighter corners.
By John McIlroy