Motoring review: Audi A3 Sportback 2.0 TDI Sport

'I can't shake off the feeling I've driven this Audi before'

Price: £22,705 (range starts at £19,825)
Engine capacity: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Power output (PS @ rpm): 150 @ 3,500-4,000
Top speed (mph): 134
0-62 mph (seconds): 8.7
Fuel economy (mpg): 67.3
CO2 emissions (g/km): 108

If the new Audi A3 looks familiar that's because it's not that different from the old Audi A3. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. A quick browse of the firm's website suggests Audi sells 44 different types of car that bear the Four Rings. And of all of them – from sleek supercars and off-roaders to luxury saloon and estates – the A3 is the company's best-selling car in Britain, shifting 25,000 models a year.

The new model follows the standard identikit Audi design formula from Ingolstaft. That doesn't mean it's unattractive, though, and in this Sportback form it has escaped the crowded Audi stable with five doors and an extra 58mm in length over the standard A3. That might not sound like a lot but it creates an extra chunk of legroom in the rear – enough for adults to sit comfortably. The boot is also bigger, making the Sportback a properly practical car. It is also what luxury car-makers call a "premium compact" so inside there's a host of chrome dials and soft-to-touch surfaces.

Sales will be primarily split between the 148bhp 2-litre diesel and the 120bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit. There's a £2,300 premium for the oil burner I'm testing which will, on the motorway, cruise along in near silence, all while giving you an mpg figure many so-called green cars would be proud of. It's low on the tax front too. Though it's no sports car, it is a rapid motorway cruiser and can be thown around on B roads with ease. The odd thing is that I feel like I've driven this exact car before.

I haven't, but I drove the new VW Golf recently. And it's under the skin of the new A3 Sportback where things get interesting. It uses the Volkswagen Group's new Modularer Querbaukasten (MQB). That's German for modular transverse matrix to you, and it's the firm's new "mega platform". Bear with me here. I know it's not exactly a Virgin Galactic rocket test but it is revolutionising the way VW Group does business and is well on the way to making it the biggest car-maker on earth. Let me explain; Volkswagen Group is made up of 12 car companies, including Audi, VW (there's that Golf, you see), Seat, Porsche and Skoda, and by using this sort of Lego-style underpinning it can base many different types, sizes and brands of car on the same platform with huge savings.

This has been the automotive Holy Grail since the days of the Model T as car-makers have dreamt of building the same basic car which they car tune and subtly alter on top (and in their engine offerings) to sell across the world in different markets. It's not cheap, though, and the MQB is thought to have cost the VW Group somewhere in the region of $70bn. In return the potential pay-off is huge: Morgan Stanley estimates savings of $19bn for the firm by 2019.

Along with the Seat Leon, Skoda Octavia and VW Golf the Audi A3 is one of the first of dozens of new models. And here's the rub – if you spend £22k on an A3 Sportback it has the same basic underpinning underneath as a £17k Seat Leon or VW Golf. Should you feel short-changed? Not really. You might be thinking "hang on a minute, why should I splash out for the Audi?" but you'd be missing the point. All three cars are good but they are aimed at different types of buyers; the Audi, for example, is about the badge, cosseted ride and higher levels of luxury.

Yes, I suppose it's true that modern cars are all getting similar in some respects and that's probably a little boring, but it's not necessarily always a bad thing.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

    £13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

    Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

    £19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

    £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Day In a Page

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future