Week ending September 20
Driven this week 348 miles
This week I went down to Dorset for a day for a personal shopper feature. I borrowed the A3 and was yet again impressed. It's a comfortable and economical cruiser that took the six-hour round trip in its stride.
However, I did discover one niggle. When I turned on the digital speedometer, the clock disappeared and as I had the sat-nav screen lowered to reduce distractions I had no idea what the time was. Not a major gripe but frustrating when you don't want to keep a reader and a photographer waiting.
Matthew Burrow - email@example.com
Week ending September 13
Driven this week 100 miles
So at last the Audi has been fixed - and after the drawn-out process of actually sourcing the offending part (a turbo rattle clip, I'm told), my local dealership operated a lot more slickly when it came to actually fitting it.
First, I had a text message the day before to remind me that the vehicle was being collected the next morning. Sure enough, at around 0830 a smartly turned-out gent arrived to take away the Sportback - and then at around 1130 I had a call from a customer rep to inform me that the work had been carried out and given a road test.
They didn't stop there, either. Audi Camberley also conducted a 'safety check'; my ears pricked up at this point, expecting a bill for brakes or tyres, but in fact I was told that the wear rates were bang on schedule and, er, that was that. No cost, at all; just good news all round (including a wash and vacuum).
The car was returned to me in the afternoon, gleaming, and I was given a detailed invoice that tells me exactly what work was carried out, gives me the name of the technician involved in case I want to follow it up, and informs me that I don't have to pay a penny for it, since it's all covered by warranty.
Top job, then, and I'm even more pleased to report that the turbo clip fix has indeed eradicated the rattle that made the car sound like it had a set of castanets under the bonnet between 2000rpm and 3000rpm. Finally I can get back to enjoying the 1.4-litre engine's smooth power delivery and the A3's super-refined cabin; it's like having a whole new car again.
It's just a pity that the whole experience took the thick end of three months to get to this point. I know the A3 is still a relatively new car but the engine in our example is well known throughout the VW Group - and regardless of how things go from here on, the delays in sourcing a £12.08 part will always have clouded my early experience with the car. That's a real pity, because the vehicle itself deserves much better.
Week ending September 6
Driven this week 300 miles
The recent arrival of baby Mac has given me a chance to push certain aspects of the A3 Sportback to new limits. Previously, you see, my evaluation of practicality has been, 'Can it cope with a load of furniture that I'm taking to the dump?' And sure enough, with the rear seats down the Audi was fine for that job.
However, factor in a baby in the rear seats and you suddenly have to rely on the boot alone - and I've already found myself manoeuvring the buggy (okay, it's called a 'travel system' these days) around in there to make sure everything fits in. Throw in a couple of a shopping bags and it's pretty much full, in fact.
In general use this isn't much of an issue - but for longer journeys and trips, it could be a problem. In fact, I've found myself looking elsewhere in the What Car? long-termer fleet for something that can cope with baby-related clutter and holiday packing for a forthcoming trip to deepest Normandy. Kia Carens, anyone? Or should I just get a roofbox?