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Our A3 departs accepting accepted the much-maligned ammunition still has article to action in aggregation cars.

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In our abiding analysis of the Audi A3, we set out to acknowledgment the catechism of whether it makes faculty as a agent exceptional hatchback. Well, now that it’s larboard our fleet, we accept to achieve that the acknowledgment to the aboriginal allotment of that catechism is a aural yes.

An boilerplate abridgement amount on analysis of 61mpg, an advance on the official WLTP figure, is superb, as is the way it accustomed an boilerplate of about 600 afar amid visits to bushing stations. Admittedly, my heavily bargain breadth during the latest lockdown may beggarly the A3 sidestepped the aforementioned winter abatement in ability that Business Car editor Simon Harris appear from his Volkswagen Passat diesel, with the aforementioned engine. But alike so, it’s adamantine to abstain the cessation that, admitting agent car sales continuing to collapse – they accounted for aloof 13.2% of UK registrations in February – for aggregation drivers accomplishing continued motorway journeys, the ammunition still makes a lot of sense. There’s no arrears in achievement either – at 150hp it’s not a hot hatch, but has added than abundant boost for approved motoring and can pin you aback in your bank if required, with an arresting 360Nm torque amount acceptable in-gear acceleration.

So, that’s a thumbs up for agent – what about the exceptional bear element? Well, there’s no agnosticism that the A3’s high-quality autogenous feels like a exceptional artefact – and accepting activated the latest Volkswagen Golf, I can additionally affirm that the A3 is a audible footfall up compared with its platform-sharing accessory in agreement of the abstracts used. And the A3 does a lot of added things well. The infotainment arrangement is awful accomplished, with the accomplished Virtual Cockpit disciplinarian affectation (with chip Google Earth mapping) commutual with a 10.1in touchscreen, while the A3 thankfully additionally retains concrete controls for the blast system. And the aggregate of adaptive cruise ascendancy and automated manual fabricated continued ambit travelling a allotment of cake, as did the adequate seats and the ‘standard’ suspension, adapted as a no-cost advantage rather than the firmer S Band set-up.

However, while all-embracing in its time with us the A3 has impressed, it’s difficult for me to aces out any absolute wow factor, which, because the amount of our analysis car with options came to over £37,000, is a disappointment. Although, in accepted blueprint its amount matches up able-bodied with exceptional rivals the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

For me, personally, it’s adamantine to analyze the A3 favourably with the Mazda3 bear I ran on our agile in 2019, which additionally boasts a superb interior, and is bigger to drive and, in my opinion, added stylish. But there is one aloft blemish – Mazda no best makes that car with a agent engine. Deeply back-number it may be, but from a agile perspective, that highly-efficient assemblage beneath the beanie – which additionally aloof shades the BMW and Merc in official abridgement testing – ability be the A3’s best trump card.

For accessible reasons, the Business Car A3 hasn’t done actual abounding afar recently. In fact, the odometer tells me that it’s done absolutely two afar aback our aftermost update. So, instead, let me allure you to booty a cruise aback in time, to August 2020, aback my dad and I acclimated the A3 for a 200-mile cruise to absorb a weekend watching archetypal motor racing, which was acceptable by communicable restrictions at the time – it’s not too difficult to break 2m abroad from added bodies aback spaced out about a 2.4-mile chase track. 

The A3’s cossack had no agitation burning our suitcases, rucksacks with supplies, and changes of footwear. Although, our camping chairs did accept to go on the aback bank (in the Audi’s defence, this was afore I knew the cossack attic could be bargain – see January’s amend for added details). On the adventure up, we benefited from the A3’s favourable ride affection and additionally the on-board sat-nav rerouting us about a accepted cartage jam agitation point – although, it has to be said, the rather circumlocutory avenue it took to do this fabricated us catechism its account a bit. Still, it’s the old satnav cartage bind – you never see how bad the adjournment was you were avoiding, acceptation you can never absolutely adjudicator the account of the diversion. And anyway, the aggregate of adaptive cruise ascendancy and automated apparatus takes abundant of the altercation out of stop-start cartage conditions.

Once at our destination, the A3 had no agitation accepting in and out of the blooming acreage car parks, with the adventurous bodywork of our S Band blueprint car not proving any hindrance. We did appear above one annoyance, however, on abrogation the ambit – the A3 doesn’t acquiesce you to blazon in sat-nav instructions while on the move, insisting you resort to its autography acceptance affection instead. Alike if that makes faculty as a assurance affection – and Audi charge anticipate it does – it’s a bit acid if you accept a advanced bank passenger, who could calmly blazon in the instructions for you but is clumsy to do so – decidedly if, as in my dad’s case, your autography turns out to be unintelligible as far as the A3’s infotainment arrangement is concerned. 

Overall though, the A3 accepted itself to be a acceptable agent for a cruise away, with accurate acknowledgment to its back-number agent engine, which accustomed us to complete the 400-mile annular trip, as able-bodied as the hops to and from the ambit for two days, afterwards defective to refuel once. Here’s acquisitive that we’ll all be able to adore such trips abroad afresh afore too long. Although, with the A3’s time with Business Car abutting its end, it’s added acceptable that I’ll be accomplishing them in a altered vehicle, which will accept a aerial accepted to match.

When I aboriginal took commitment of our A3, I begin the cossack to be hardly abate than I was expecting. It absolutely wasn’t pokey, and the aerial akin of the attic came abutting to the opening, which fabricated auction abundant items easier. However, I was still assured a little bit added space, and it acquainted abate than the 380 litres quoted on the blueprint sheet. It seemed abnormally abstract aback there was an bare amplitude beneath the boot, aloft breadth a additional caster would go. Why, I wondered, didn’t they fit an adjustable cossack floor?

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Well, it turns out the accountability was all mine, and the A3 does accept an adjustable cossack attic afterwards all. I anticipate my abashing arose because on antecedent analysis cars I’ve had with this feature, the attic has slid into a bracket with two acutely audible college and lower slots in it. In contrast, the A3’s cossack attic in the lower position artlessly slides beneath the bracket entirely, into a breadth where, I apparent aback I approved it, has about been advised to aperture actual deeply into place.

So, the abounding admeasurement of the auto cossack is now accessible if I charge it. But what if that’s still not abundant for your needs? Well, afore Christmas I was able to accept a drive in the dejected agent pictured. This is the alehouse adaptation of the A3, which accordingly I activated in the aforementioned S Band accessories brand and with the aforementioned 150hp agent agent as my approved car.

As you’d expect, it would booty a argumentative assay to ascertain any changes in the active experience, aback the differences are accessory – it’s 15cm longer, but with the aforementioned amplitude and wheelbase, and abandoned 5kg heavier. But to the point at activity here, it does action a bigger cossack than the Sportback, at 425 litres adjoin 380. That’s a adapted block of space, although the added admeasurement of advance needs to be advised adjoin the abate cossack aperture you accordingly get with the accident of the hatch. Both anatomy styles, except the entry-level adaptation of the hatch, additionally account from 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats, acceptance continued items to extend through the average of the bank into the berth while still all-around a rear bank commuter either side. Said cartage ability be a little beneath adequate in the saloon, however, as the roofline is hardly lower – admitting they’d apparently charge to be a bit over 6ft alpine to be inconvenienced.

There are some other, conceivably beneath expected, differences if you opt for the saloon. With its added aerodynamic shape, it produces 3g/km beneath CO2, although this isn’t abundant to bead it into a lower BIK tax bandage and it has hardly bigger ammunition abridgement in official WLTP testing, at 58.9mpg adjoin the hatch’s 57.6mpg (a amount our long-termer is still hardly bettering). On the downside, it’s about £600 added big-ticket to buy. All-embracing then, the best amid them can apparently be larboard to claimed aftertaste – but I wouldn’t say I was larboard clamouring to bandy out of the Sportback permanently.

In the antecedent update, I accepted our Audi A3 for actuality a adequate long-distance cruiser. However, readers ability accept been apprehensive if this came with a snag – has this abundance appear at the amount of disciplinarian appeal?

It’s a pertinent point accustomed that our A3 is specced in the adventurous S-Line accessories grade. This agency exoteric administration appearance such as added advancing bumpers, a roof addle-brain and rear aloofness glass. I’m a accurate fan of the 18in admixture auto in graphite, which adverse accurately with the Glacier White brownish paint, but acutely those auto aren’t commonly accessible to adjustment in the UK. Autogenous architecture appearance accommodate action seats, aflame aperture sills and stainless animate pedals, and all-embracing it’s a amalgamation that adds up to some austere kerbside appeal. But is it all aloof appearance with no substance, or does the active acquaintance get about abutting to the adventurous image?

Well, acutely our A3 is no hot bear – it abandoned has a 150hp agent agent afterwards all. However, that agent is still altogether able of burying you aback in your bank if desired, abnormally aback accelerating in-gear, breadth the account is acquainted of the agent unit’s torque – at 360Nm it’s added than 100Nm advanced of the petrol agnate and, in fact, abandoned 40Nm abaft the S3 achievement model.

Helping to arrange that boost is the seven-speed DSG automated gearbox, which bliss bottomward apace aback pressed, afterwards alike defective to resort to the activating drive mode. However, do that and a weighting-up of the council is additionally triggered, which although not carefully all-important does add a bit of reassurance. There is additionally the advantage to about-face apparatus yourself with the council wheel-mounted paddles, but this doesn’t absolutely add abundant to the acquaintance to be account the effort.

I’ve mentioned afore that our car was specced with the A3’s accepted suspension, accessible as a no-cost option, rather than the firmer S-Line set-up. This has accepted a acceptable best for long-distance comfort, but I’m blessed to affirm it’s not a accommodation that charcoal things aback cornering. OK, a hardly tauter advanced end ability be acceptable aback axis in, but that’s acrimonious really, aback our A3 handles able-bodied overall, and the council is precise. 

Also accomplishing acceptable bifold assignment are the seats, which as able-bodied as actuality adequate places to awning afar are able-bodied bolstered, allowance to accumulate you in abode aback the alley gets twisty. 

Overall, while the A3 in this blueprint isn’t the best driver’s car in its class, in ablaze of the administration it does able-bodied abundant to be admirable – and I apprehend best aggregation car drivers would accede with me that they wouldn’t like to see the administration bigger if it came at the amount of ride abundance or refinement.

When I took commitment of our abiding A3 a few months ago, I speculated that with its agent agent and automated gearbox it would be the ideal apparatus for my accepted business biking requirements, with circadian commutes to the appointment a activity of the accomplished and abandoned long-distance trips to car launches scheduled. And I’m blessed to address that is absolutely how it’s proving so far.

We’ll alpha with the engine. Yes, if you can bet on annihilation in 2020, it’s agent car sales continuing to abatement off a cliff. But, blimey, is it acceptable to ascend abaft the caster afterwards bushing up to be told you accept able-bodied over 600 afar of range. It agency it’s absolutely accessible to do six-hour annular trips from the south to jobs in the Midlands afterwards accepting to refuel already – and who doesn’t appetite to absorb as little time as accessible in bushing stations? That ambit isn’t aloof bottomward to the admeasurement of the ammunition catchbasin – calculations appearance that so far the A3 has accomplished real-world ammunition abridgement of 61mpg, which as able-bodied as actuality a awful arresting amount in its own adapted is additionally accessible the 57.6mpg amount from the official WLTP test. Bottom band is, this agent ability be an off-trend agent – there’s not alike a mild-hybrid arrangement to save some electrified face – but it’s adamantine to altercate with those ammunition accumulation adjoin an agnate petrol car, and there are alike affluence of hybrids that would accept a job on their easily to bout up.

Moving on, there’s not too abundant to say about the seven-speed S Tronic gearbox from a long-distance biking basis, except that it does its job calmly and is consistently a advantage aback ashore in apathetic traffic. However, one important action it does accomplish is to facilitate the adaptive cruise ascendancy system, allotment of the £1,405 disciplinarian abetment pack. Opinions are sometimes disconnected on these, but I’m about a fan, and the Audi’s arrangement is one of the best on the market. For the uninitiated, they acquiesce the car to apathetic bottomward and acceleration up based on the acceleration of cartage in front, alike (thanks to the auto) advancing to a stop and affective abroad again, which does so abundant to abate accent in jams, and doubles up as a advantageous assurance affection should motorway cartage apathetic suddenly. An added benefit with our A3’s arrangement is that it additionally works with satnav data, acceptation if, for example, there is a aciculate angle advancing up ahead, it will administer the brakes for you to accompany the car bottomward to a safe acceleration to turn. It will additionally do this aback abutting roundabouts – not bringing the car to a complete stop, but to an adapted acceleration to access if the alliance is clear, and to cautiously stop if it isn’t. At aboriginal I was sceptical about this feature, cerebration it ability animate a disciplinarian to tune out and lose concentration, but afterwards a brace of thousand afar I’ve appear bottomward actual abundant in favour, seeing it as aloof a allowance duke that added reduces the brainy assessment taken by long-distance travelling.

Of course, all this stress-saving kit would calculation for little if the A3 was uncomfortable, but that’s far from the case. The approved suspension, adapted instead of the S-Line’s accepted sports abeyance as a no-cost option, is aloof the admission for continued journeys, alienated acerbity and arresting bumps nicely. The adventurous S-Line seats, too, ability be able-bodied bolstered with an eye on cornering, but aren’t ever firm, and are a altogether adequate abode to while abroad the hours. And if you’re afraid all this allocution of abundance agency poor handling, I’ll allay any fears in that administration in a approaching update.

When I heard that Audi had ditched the rotary ascendancy from the new A3’s infotainment arrangement and had gone touchscreen-only I accepted to animosity it. I’m far from abandoned in cerebration that abounding manufacturers, in authoritative as abounding functions touchscreen-based as possible, accept gone too far, banishment drivers to abominably point at a awning and accordingly booty their eyes off the alley while driving, rather than application a added automatic concrete control. Indeed, my two favourite analysis car infotainment systems during my time at Business Car, adapted to the Mini Bear and Mazda3, both affection a rotary ascendancy set-up.

However, I’ve begin the A3’s arrangement to be abundant easier to use than I expected. Chiefly, I anticipate this is because my accepted acumen for operating a awning on the move is to about-face amid the satnav map and the audio arrangement controls, but with Audi’s superb Virtual Cockpit affectation I can accept the (Google Earth) accessory map in the apparatus array the accomplished time, abrogation the axial awning chargeless for the stereo (or if you adopt you can about-face amid the functions on the Virtual Cockpit awning with the council caster controls). 

In addition, Audi has, at atomic with the A3, abhorred the pitfall of putting blast arrangement controls on the screen, acceptation that these can be adapted with good-old concrete buttons. There’s additionally the advantage to use articulation control, but abandoned I acquisition this too abundant of a faff to use best of the time accustomed how abundant acceptance it needs for commands, admitting it could be advantageous if you charge to reroute the satnav while driving.

One breadth area the A3’s infotainment arrangement does abatement bottomward is aggregate control. The bulge on the centre animate looks like a traditional, twist-able affair, but in actuality it’s touch-controlled, acute you to abominably bash your feel in a annular motion to adjust. It feels like the designers actuality too able for their own good, but auspiciously it’ll abandoned be an irritant for cartage aback the disciplinarian can artlessly use the council wheel-mounted controls instead.

A affection that takes a far added aboveboard access is the admonishing arrangement that tells you if your buzz is still acquainted in aback you leave the agent – in the anatomy of a accurate articulation announcement. Some may acquisition that annoying, but abandoned I acknowledge it, accustomed how often, with the modern-day assemblage of relying on phones for in-car entertainment, I’ve absolved several account abroad from the agent abandoned to realise that my adaptable is still ensconced on the centre console. If you do acquisition it annoying, there’s an advantage to about-face it off.

As for the blow of the interior, it’s a thumbs up from me. Aback the A3 launched, some reviews complained of sub-par plastics actuality fitted, but you accept to pay abutting absorption to apprehension them, and a far bigger consequence is fabricated by the consistently aerial affection of the fit and finish, with a auspiciously abundant bang to all the switches. The council caster is acceptable too – reassuringly beefy afterwards actuality cumbersome.

A lot of things accept afflicted in 2020, but one activity that hasn’t is the abatement in new agent car sales. The SMMT says that so far in 2020, agent has taken aloof 17.7% of the market, bottomward from 25.2% in 2019, which itself came on the aback of years of avalanche post-dieselgate. 

That ability accomplish it assume like the agent Audi A3, which has aloof abutting our fleet, is on a ambuscade to annihilation – decidedly aback you accede the aftermost agent car I ran in this segment, the Mazda3, was absolutely discontinued by its architect during the analysis aeon due to a abridgement of demand. And the A3’s agent doesn’t alike accept a fuel-saving mild-hybrid arrangement of the array that has circumscribed up afresh with added agent Audis.

But the A3 does accept two things in its favour. Firstly, that admitting the bad publicity about the fuel, we at Business Car still anticipate that with its acceptable ammunition abridgement and CO2 emissions agent charcoal the adapted best for abounding agile applications. And secondly, as for abounding people, my own claimed assignment adventure contour this year has been abundantly amended. Before, a ample block of my breadth in abiding analysis cars was spent on blitz hour commutes to the office, but like millions of others this has now disappeared, with homeworking acceptable the norm. What’s larboard accordingly is the long-distance trips – three-hour slogs up the motorway arrangement to appear the new brand of socially distanced media events. Potentially, it’s the ideal hypothesis for a diesel, so I’m assured arresting abstracts from our ammunition abridgement calculations over the advancing months. 

Engine aside, this is, of course, the latest A3 that accustomed on the bazaar beforehand this year, in abutting adjacency to its platform-sharing VW Group cousins the Volkswagen Golf, Bank Leon and Skoda Octavia. Unsurprisingly, the Audi is the best big-ticket of those four, so what I’m attractive for are actual affidavit to accept it above aloof accepting four rings on the advanced grille. It’s in the adventurous S Band accessories grade, which absolutely helps it to accomplish a acceptable aboriginal impression, with bespoke S Band bumpers, a roof spoiler, chrome tailpipes and aloofness bottle amid its corrective flourishes. However, I’m additionally admiring that as a no-cost advantage the A3’s accepted abeyance has been retained, rather than the bargain sports abeyance that is commonly included with S Line. OK, cars adapted with that should accept bluff handling, but with added Audis I’ve approved that additionally agency compromised ride comfort, and with the agent agent authoritative the car feel artlessly added ill-fitted to canoeing than B-road blasting, the approved accoutrement seems like the adapted choice. 

Inside, Audi’s Virtual Cockpit affectation is accepted throughout the range, forth with a 10.1in infotainment touchscreen. It’s a tech showcase, and does attending good. But afresh the autogenous should be impressive, accustomed the basal amount of the car in this blueprint is added than £31,000, and if annihilation the all-encompassing account of options adapted reveals some shortcomings in the accepted accessories account – authoritative you pay £330 added for acrimonious advanced seats, for example, feels a bit stingy. With the options included the amount comes to over £37K – a beefy amount absolutely for a lower-medium hatch, and one that creates aerial expectations for the A3 to alive up to.

Standard equipment: LED headlights and appendage lights, aloofness glass, advanced and rear centre armrest, stainless animate pedals and advanced footrest, selectable drive modes, dual-zone altitude control, auto concealment and frameless rear-view mirror, covering multifunction council wheel, USB-A port, USB-C port, smartphone interface, 10.1in touchscreen with satnav, 10.25in Virtual Cockpit display, Audi Connect aeronautics and infotainment casework (three-year subscription), cruise control, rear parking sensors, free emergency braking, blow abstention assistant, lane abandonment warning, auto lights and wipers

Options: Glacier White brownish acrylic (£575), disciplinarian abetment backpack (£1,405), 18in five-spoke Y-design admixture auto in graphite (£145, not commonly accessible in UK), anamnesis affection for disciplinarian (£1,150), Matrix LED exoteric lighting backpack (£675), accumulator backpack (£175), continued ambient lighting backpack (£110), acrimonious advanced seats (£330), four-way advanced bank lumbar abutment (£260), accelerating council (£240), Bang & Olufsen exceptional complete arrangement 3D complete (£760), accepted abeyance (no added cost)

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