REVIEW: Audi A3 Sportback TSFI

The Audi A3 Sportback in Tango Red.

Some weeks I can be very lucky with press cars. I saw from the Automotive Team’s dashboard that the Audi A3 Sportback was available in black and red and just before Christmas I was lucky enough to get to drive the Tango Red version.

The A3 was first introduced into the European market in 1996, marking Audi’s return to the production of smaller cars following the demise of the Audi 50 in 1978.

The A3 was initially available only as a three-door hatchback, to present a more sporty image than the Golf. The five-door Tango Red version that I drove is the fourth generation of the car.

The new version, which was designed by Dubliner David Caffrey, uses a 1.5 TSI turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine and is fitted with the ‘S tronic’ automatic gearbox.

Audi A3 Sportback. (Picture: Paddy McGrath)

It also gets mild-hybrid assistance, a 48-volt ‘MHEV’ or mild-hybrid system that runs the stop-start for longer in traffic, and allows the A3 to coast at higher speeds and offer fuel and emission savings.

The new A3 has been revised outside and inside. At first glance it looks it looks better proportioned than the larger A4 and from a distance could be mistaken for an A8. The A3 saloon features strong lines, nice overhangs and subtle sculpting and has been described as a scaled down business saloon.

The top speed is 220km/h and you could get you from zero to 100km/h in just over eight seconds if it’s speed you are after. But as I said in previous weeks, at this stage of my life I’m more interested in comfort than speed.

The interior of the Audi A3 Sportback. (Picture: Paddy McGrath)

Bright red outside but the interior is dominated by Henry Ford’s favourite colour, black. However, the controls on the dash help to brighten up the interior decor. A new-look clutter-free dash design is similar to the more expensive Audi A7.

I liked the new-look gear lever, but was surprised to see a button just to the left of the gear lever to control the radio.

I preferred to use the slave controls near the steering wheel. But I did like the individual climate control buttons on the dash.

The boot is huge and while there is a huge ‘well’ to hold a spare wheel, none is provided. I always encourage would be first time buyers to haggle for a proper spare wheel and I am not changing that resolution for 2021.

It was fast and comfortable with the seats coming in the usual high quality that we associate with Audi cars. Prices start at €31,840, but my 35 TFI test car will cost you €43,928. Road tax is € 210.

The Audi A3 Sportback. (Picture: Paddy McGrath)

It certainly could not be described as inexpensive, but then I suppose every car that carries the Audi logo is class. Maybe you should change those Lottery numbers in the New Year, if you want one like I drove.

Audi use their famous German phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ which means ‘progress through technology’ in their ads. It’s a good line and has been used for a few decades now; I reckon it will continue to be used in 2021.

Audi Ireland has confirmed that a new Audi A3 Sportback with plug-in hybrid technology will go on sale here in January.

The A3 hybrid will be badged 40 TFSI-e and will have 204 brake horse power and can be driven on electric power alone for a range of approx 67 kilometres. A more powerful variant will follow later in the year.

Audi A3 Sportback. (Picture: Paddy McGrath)