I was handed the keys of the long-term Audi early in December, just as the bad weather hit and we were reminded of just how impressive this 'old stager' still is.
Inside & Out: 8/10
The Audi A3 we've been running isn't really your standard out of the box A3. Sure, it is powered by a reasonably lowly 1.6-litre TDI engine with 105hp (very much geared towards economy), but with a generous few ticks of the options list this car suddenly felt like it was an A6 rather than Audi's second-smallest car. It is a very discreet model and we liked that about it. From the outside it looks like a bit of a plain Jane, but from the inside, with the fancy audio system and navigation, it feels first-rate.
Engine & Transmission: 8/10
This is where we were really impressed by the Audi A3. The engine is superb and while on paper 105hp might not seem like a lot, it was more than enough to cope with our daily 110km round trip, which is mainly motorway. It pulls well and the gearbox is very smooth, especially since the car reached 5,000km and was well run-in. The stop-start works really well too and is non-intrusive and - unlike other systems of this kind - there is no perceivable delay in starting up.
Ride & Handling: 7/10
We did spend most of our time on the M1 motorway, but when we did get a chance to explore the car's handling, we found that the steering was a little on the sloppy side. We know that newer Audis have addressed this but we would have liked a slightly firmer and more responsive steering rack. However, this is an extremely comfortable car and one that we would be happy to use everyday if we were racking up heavy mileage.
Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: 7/10
Compared to cars such as the Ford Focus and Opel Astra, the Audi A3 looks expensive, but this car has a much more upmarket feel than alternatives such as those and when you compare it to prestige badge rivals such as the BMW 1 Series and Volvo C30 then it really starts to make sense - you can see why it outsold the BMW two-to-one and the Volvo almost five-to-one.
It is a very cheap car to run, with 1,000km between fill ups easily achievable if you have a light enough foot and the emissions at 99g/km make it one of the cleanest cars in Ireland - this side of an electric or hybrid model.
The base Audi A3 comes as standard with alloy wheels, air conditioning, ESP stability control, electric windows, aux-in stereo connectivity and central locking. Our test car has €8,990 worth of extras, including full satnav and infotainment, the fancy lights, multi-function steering wheel, Parallel Park Assist, climate control and Bluetooth.
CompleteCar Index: 8/10
We really like this car. It is one of those models that might have slipped from our minds, but with this engine it is so relevant to the country we are living in and makes a great all-rounder. We are really going to miss it.
Audi A3 1.6 TDI 105:
- Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
- Maximum power: 105hp at 4,400rpm
- Maximum torque: 250Nm at 1,500 - 2,500rpm
- Acceleration (0-100km/h): 11.4 seconds
- Top speed: 194km/h
- Fuel economy (combined cycle): 3.8 litres/100km (74.3mpg)
- CO2 emissions: 99g/km
- Motor tax band: A
- Annual road tax: €104
- Retail price: Official price of test car without options is €25,795