Last year was a big one for Audi. Sales grew for the 12th year and their showrooms saw new A4 and Q7 ranges, the ballistic SQ7 and supersonically fast R8 V10 Plus and just before Santa slid down the chimney, a facelifted A3 range was rolled out, featuring new tech and a new engine.
Four years after bursting on the scene, the A3 quickly became a giant slayer, easily outselling BMW’s 1-Series and giving the Mercedes A-class a good run for its money.
The revised A3 lineup keeps the three body styles – (sedan, hatch, cabriolet) and prices range from $36,500 for the 1-litre three-cylinder entry model to $64,500 for the racy S3 sedan.
After spending a day steering each through Victoria’s beautiful Yarra Valley, I grabbed the $51,100 (+ORC’s) A3 2.0 TFSI Quattro S tronic for a week. Finished in Tango Red with a contrasting black interior, it got loads of looks.
Behind the wheel, it feels similar to the new A4 and it’s choc a block with the latest driving assist, safety and entertainment technologies.
Appointments include a retractable infotainment screen with the latest software nicked from the A4 and Q7, dual-zone air-con, 8-speaker audio system and as part of the update, Xenon headlights and matrix LED tail lamps with indicators that strobe their beam in the direction you’re turning.
One option I’d tick every time is the visually brilliant Virtual cockpit, an LED screen that lets you customise the dash with google maps, your smartphone contacts, vehicle information and it lets you shrink or enlarge the speedo and tacho. It’s fantastic.
The A3 2.0 TFSI Quattro test car was fitted with a bunch of option packs including the Assistance pack that gives you adaptive cruise control, active lane assist, side assist, high-beam and hill hold assist.
There’s also the high-gloss exterior package, which adds matte brushed aluminium inlays and the S-Line Pack includes 18-inch alloys, Alcantara and leather seats, sports suspension, and a beaut flat-bottomed, multi-function steering wheel with paddle shifts.
Another option box ticked was the Technik pack, that provided the Virtual cockpit and satnav. All up it shot the price to $62,650.
Only a sharp eye will spot the exterior updates with the cosmetic surgeons limiting their work to revised front and rear bumpers, new front and rear tail lights and a slight tweak to the grille. It looks like a slightly shrunken A4, which I think is just perfect. Along with the fresh looks comes a raft of new alloy wheels.
Gone are the 1.8 litre four and six speed auto of the past model, replaced by a more powerful and torquey 2.0-litre engine, coupled to an all-new seven-speed dual clutch auto, that propels the A3 2.0 TFSI Quattro from zero to triple figures in 6.1 seconds and a top speed of 250km/h.
The surprise of the day was the 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine in the base car, but no surprise that the pick of the pack is the A3 2.0 TFSI Quattro S tronic Sport.
Naturally, it has multi-drive modes that vary the engine, gearbox, suspension and steering aggression and in my all to short time behind the wheel, it constantly flaunted its considerable ride and handling talent.
Safety wise, the A3 is well catered with seven airbags (including driver’s knee bag), ABS, stability and traction controls, reverse cross traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking (up to 65km/h) and driver attention detection. It has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.
The A3’s styling and equipment updates ensure its ongoing appeal, with only its competitors cursing its arrival on our shores.
For more info on the A3 2.0 TFSI Quattro S tronic Sport head to Audi’s website.