We all know Audi is a great brand. But it seems like everyday there is a new reason to love this very versatile vehicle line-up. Here is a great article about Audi’s hatchback, the A3 – in the TDI version. Not only is this vehicle fuel-efficient, but it packs a punch with the 2.0 litre engine and still manages to maintain its sporty attitude. The prefect combination of power and efficiency and not to mention – Green Car of The Year! Read below to find out more details on this great vehicle and all the many many reasons you will want to own one!
Hatchbacks have always made so much sense. Why it has taken these common sense cars such a long time to catch on remains a mystery. The Audi A3 is a prime example of everything that’s right with the breed: It’s sporty, classy — especially with the S Line package — and it has surprising utility. Wonderful stuff! However, all of this is overshadowed by the test car’s power source — Audi’s 2.0-litre TDI (turbocharged direct injection) diesel. This engine is the epitome of all that’s right with the modern clean diesel. Not only does it have the wherewithal to motivate the A3 with alacrity, it does so while being exceptionally clean and frugal.
A colleague managed a very good 7.1 litres per 100 kilometres on an extended run in the middle of winter. Baby the accelerator and it is possible to get the average fuel economy down to around 5.5 L/100 km (it’s actually rated at 4.6 L/100 km on the highway). That is not too far removed from the sort of economy expected from a hybrid. This blend of efficiency and cleanliness has not gone unnoticed — the A3 TDI earned the title of 2010 Green Car of the Year, an award presented annually by the Green Car Journal.
Of course, the best fuel miser in the world is not worth its salt if it’s a dull drive. Puttering around town while flogging the living daylights out of an engine just to keep up with stop-and-go traffic is not fun. In this case, the A3’s TDI delivers 140 horsepower, which is good. However, it is the 236 pound-feet of torque at 1,750 rpm that sweetens the drive. Hammer the accelerator and the A3 TDI picks up its exaggerated S Line side sills and runs to 100 kilometres an hour in 8.9 seconds. True, it is not as fast as its gasoline-powered sibling (6.9 seconds to 100), but it is more than quick enough to entertain. The reason is simple — the turbodiesel comes teamed with a twin-clutch six-speed transmission (S Tronic in Audispeak).
This gearbox is one sweet piece of engineering. Pull the shifter back into drive and it acts exactly like a regular automatic, but it also brings the mechanical efficiency of a manual box. Use the steering wheel-mounted paddles (part of the S Line package) and the shifts are like greased lightning. The box also does a credible impersonation of a heel/ toe downshift, blipping the gas (aka rev matching) on downshifts. This brings the desired engine braking when heading into a fast sweeper. The box and the torque available at the low end combine to make the A3 feel alive whenever it’s driven with purpose.
This leads neatly into the A3’s next likeable trait, feeling as though it is riding on rails when a looping on-ramp is challenged. Unlike the regular A3, the S Line version comes with a sportier suspension that manages to cater equally well to both the ride and handling sides. When loafing along, the suspension soaks up road irregularities in stride. Ramp up the enthusiasm of the drive and body roll is limited to a couple of degrees and understeer stays at arm’s length. A big part of the reason for the latter boils down to the up-sized P225/40R18 tires. The grip they deliver also sharpens the feel and feedback from the precise steering. The anti-lock brakes follow this lead, delivering short 37.9-metre stops from 100 km/h. The only lamentable thing is that Audi’s Haldex-based quattro all-wheel-drive system is not offered with the TDI. Its inclusion would sharpen the overall driving experience and deliver better traction — the diesel’s low-end torque likes to spin the front tires under hard acceleration. As it stands, the TDI has to make do with the standard electronic traction/ stability control system to counter unwanted wheelspin.
The interior design and its functional form underscore the A3’s dynamic personality. The steering wheel has a nice chunky rim and the S Line’s sport buckets offer body-hugging support without that confining feeling. Even Audi’s MMI (Multi-Media Interface) follows a logical theme. While it controls just about everything, it is intuitive and easier to use than most similar systems. There are standalone climate/audio controls and a return button, which allows a wrong input to be righted in one step. There’s also plenty of equipment — power everything, a very good Bose audio system ($1,700) and a two-piece sunroof. This last opens up the cabin enormously.
The rest of the cabin is just as accommodating. The rear seat will hold two adults in reasonable comfort, although legroom is tight if the front-seat occupants are tall. The 60/40-split/folding rear seat brings expected flexibility and decent capacity — 19.5 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats up and 39 cu. ft. when folded flat. The floor is also flat with the seats in this position.
There’s a lot to like about the A3. It is sporty, attractive and comfortable. Throw in decidedly decent road manners and you have a very compelling set of wheels. Nothing, however, proved to be quite as appealing as the diesel engine. It delivers power without penalty.