VW group’s fine 148bhp 1.5 petrol engine arrives in the A3, to good effect
Audi’s A3 Sportback has won a fair few awards for its family-friendly characteristics. Giving passengers a bit more room for their limbs and luggage is a neat extension of the hatchback concept.
This 2018 Black Edition is the A3 Sportback range-topper, and it follows the Volkswagen Golf in receiving the new 148bhp, 1.5 TFSI petrol engine. Replacing the 148bhp 1.4-litre engine, and beating it on fuel consumption and emissions, the new motor is smooth and linear in feel and delivery from fire-up right through to the region of maximum power between 5000rpm and 6000rpm.
Linked to one of the Audi Drive Select programme’s main driving modes on the S tronic DCT automatic transmission – Auto, Comfort or Dynamic – it responds sharply and predictably. You’ll notice a fair bit more softness in Comfort compared to Dynamic. Eco mode is quite stern in its eking out of fuel, and would not be the enthusiast’s choice. As with the 1.4, there’s cylinder-deactivation tech to minimise fuel consumption in low-effort driving. It engages imperceptibly.
Audi A3 Sportback 1.5 TFSI 150 Black Edition S tronic
Engine: 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, turbo petrol
Torque: 184lb ft
Gearbox: 7-speed S tronic DCT
Kerb weight: 1240kg
Top speed: 136mph
CO2/tax band: 110g/km, 21%
Auto mode is probably the best everyday setting. The official 0-62mph time of 8.2 seconds doesn’t sound particularly special, but there is an undeniably pleasing feel of speed on flowing roads. Our test car’s passive suspension option (which isn’t affected by the Drive Select settings) provides an appropriately firm ride with good road surface feedback and satisfyingly true tracking. Fans of old-school soft-riding cars might not like it, but the clue is in the ‘Sport’ bit of Sportback.
With speed-sensitive electro-mechanical steering and authoritative anti-roll bar settings in place, there’s flat-cornering precision and strong grip through the Hankook Ventus S1 evo 2 tyres even on wintry roads. It’s a secure and confident drive.
Based on S-Line trim, the Black Edition has 18-inch wheels, Audi sound system, privacy glass, black door mirrors and a black styling pack with a black grille surround and roof rails. Our test vehicle had attractive S-Line part-leather seats.
Although the cabin isn’t massive, there’s enough room and the front compartment has a cockpit feel, assisted by the superb Audi Virtual Cockpit which allows you to set up information to your own liking. The money Audi lays out on build quality and detail is just as evident in the A3 as it is in the A8 limousine. The click of the air vents and even the smell of each material used is painstakingly researched and developed. Add in a big package of driver assistance features, poised handling and that refined 1.5 TFSI engine and, budget permitting, it’s easy to make a strong case for the enduringly appealing five-door Sportback.