Priced from £22,705 Release date November 2017
We’ve grown rather fond of the Volkswagen Group’s turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine over the past few years. Found in everything from tiny hatchbacks right up to big SUVs, it’s smooth, responsive and does rather well in our True MPG fuel economy tests.
But you won’t find that engine under the bright yellow bonnet of this Audi A3 1.5 TFSI. As the name suggests, there’s a new and slightly larger turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder motor between its front wheels. Not that a smidge of extra capacity has added any muscle or increased fuel consumption – you still get 148bhp and official combined economy of nearly 60mpg.
Of course, official figures are no guarantee of identical performance. With that in mind, we’ve driven this A3 extensively to find out if it's any better than the old 1.4.
2017 Audi A3 1.5 TFSI on the road
Although the new enginbe starts in the same smooth way as the old one, you don’t have to drive too far to start noticing differences. Put your foot hard on the accelerator from low engine speeds and you’ll find the 1.5-litre isn't quite as keen to pick up speed.
It’s a similar story if you decide to let the engine rev out for maximum acceleration. Whereas the old engine would happily spin round to its redline, the new one feels slightly stifled and ultimately not quite as brisk. Don’t get us wrong, it’s not slow, just not quite as urgent as the old 1.4-litre.
The new engine also appears to be less efficient than the old one; it couldn’t match the 1.4 on our True MPG tests when fitted to the Skoda Octavia, and in the A3, it was more of a chore to reach the heady heights of 40mpg on the trip computer on our mixed test route.
It may sound like doom and gloom all round, but in reality the new engine only disappoints compared with its predecessor; it's still very impressive comopared with most alternatives. Not only is performance brisk, but it’s also smooth and quiet at a cruise. Unfortunately, this particular test car was an S line model on larger alloy wheels that generate plenty of road noise.
As for the rest of the driving experience, the A3 is exactly the same as before. That means lots of grip, not much body roll in corners and precise, if numb, steering. Our only complaint is that the big wheels contribute to a ride that is a little on the firm side, but is nevertheless well controlled.
2017 Audi A3 1.5 TFSI interior
If you’re looking at this A3 thinking that you’d take the looks of a three-door over the practicality of a five-door, we're afraid you’re already too late; production of three-door models came to an end last week. The reason is that so many more people chose the five-door Sportback.
That means we can skip over the three-door’s poorer practicality and tighter rear quarters and move on to the high quality finishes inside – class-leading no less – and the A3's clear and easy-to-use sat-nav.
Check out our full 16-point review for the complete verdict, but in a nutshell it’s still the classiest family hatchback interior out there.
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