Used Audi A3 (13-present) long term test

The Audi A3 is our used family car winner, but does it still make for a great second-hand purchase with a revised 1.5-litre engine? We have six months to find out...

Used Audi A3 long term 1.5 TFSI engine
  • The car 2018 Audi A3 Sportback 1.5 150 TFSI Sport
  • Run by Max Adams, used cars reporter
  • Why it’s here To find out if our 2019 used family car of the year still represents a stonking used purchase
  • Needs to Prove that it’s worth the premium over lesser family cars, and whether this latest 1.5 TFSI engine is as good as the old 1.4 engine

Price when new £30,695 (including £5560 worth of options) Value on arrival £19,629 (trade, no options) Value now £19,573 (trade in) Miles on arrival 4037 Mileage now 5942 Official economy 55.4mpg Test economy 48.7mpg

28 February 2019 – Drive time

With the miles racking up on our used Audi A3, it’s about time I went into what it’s like to drive and, more importantly, work out if its new 1.5-litre engine is any good.

Firstly, unlike the majority of Skoda Octavias, Seat Leons and VW Golfs that use the same platform, all A3s come with fully independent rear suspension; the others make do with a semi-independent set-up that’s more space-efficient.

Used Audi A3 (13-present) long term test review - old meets new

Think of semi-independent suspension as like running an egg and spoon race with your shoelaces tied together; you’re going to trip yourself up eventually and get egg on your face. A fully independent system is much better, because there isn’t the same level of influence shared between both rear wheels. So when one wheel hits a bump, the other is free to move as it pleases, making the car feel more surefooted. This also enables it to compete in the 100m hurdles – probably.

The second thing our A3 has over its relations is adaptive dampers. Now, having played around with all the settings, I’ve settled on Comfort. This doesn’t endow the A3 with a magic carpet ride, since you can still feel everything that’s going on beneath you, but it deals with the initial shock from bumps incredibly well – far better than some cars twice the price, in fact.

As for the steering, if you put it in Dynamic mode, it feels like the wheels are set in treacle. Comfort, though, is a lot more pleasant, being much lighter off-centre before gaining in heft when more lock is applied at speed.

Used Audi A3 (13-present) long term test review - steering wheel

Finally, we get to the engine. My car has a 1.5-litre petrol unit, which has exactly the same power and torque figures as the old 1.4 TFSI but a slightly larger capacity and plenty of additions to reduce emissions.

The engine mapping has been altered, too, which has caused some consternation among owners of Skoda Karoqs with the same engine. Their complaint is that it has a tendency to ‘kangaroo’ when setting off.

Now, I have noticed in initial running during cold weather that my A3 can do a fine job of mimicking the behaviour of Australia’s most famous marsupial. But I’ve found that it helps to set the engine to Dynamic through the Individual driving mode, because the faster response to accelerator inputs this engenders makes it easier to set the accelerator pedal when finding the biting point, allowing you to pull away smoothly.

On first acquaintance, I wasn’t quite as bowled over with the Audi A3 as I was with my old Leon. The A3 is more mature and takes a little more time to warm to. But once you have, you’ll appreciate its smooth ride, low levels of road noise and tidy handling. Just make sure the engine is up to temperature before passing final judgement.

Used Audi A3 long term 1.5 TFSI engine

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