Audi A3 Sportback 2016 new car review

Sometimes sampling doesn't work, but the new Audi A3 Sportback 2.0 TFSI S-Tronic shows it can be done.

Darren Cottingham
Darren Cottingham
Expert reviewer | Auto Media Group

Sometimes sampling doesn't work, but the new Audi A3 Sportback 2.0 TFSI S-Tronic shows it can be done. It has sampled the essence of the stellar Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Exterior , 4 out of 5 Drive , 5 out of 5 Safety , 5 out of 5 Value , 3.5 out of 5

Overall score , 4.4 out of 5

The good
  • Excellent overall package with speed, comfort, and economy
The not-so-good
  • Not that much better than a Golf GTI
  • Steering too light

It’s put some silky smooth style over the top; a more refined mix with Audi’s usual flawless interior but using the same engine and gearbox that gives it plenty of sizzle. The A3 provides an excellent driving experience.

Inside and out

The styling has been revised. The A3 has always trodden a conservative route to sports hatch stardom, and it’s a wallflower to Mercedes-Benz’ A-Class. However, there are some nice strong lines down the side and interesting jagged inside edges of the headlights that mimic the grille in differing parallels.

Our review vehicle came with the Technology Package, a $4,500 option which adds Park Assist (kind of helpful given the huge rear pillars), Active Lane Assist (not that helpful), High Beam Assist (automatically dips your high beam headlights), Virtual Cockpit (gives you nice graphics for the instrument cluster) and MMI Navigation Plus (doesn’t everyone use a smartphone now?).

The standard stereo is nothing to get excited about, but there are options to improve it ($750 for Audi’s version or $2250 for Bang & Olufsen’s version.)

The car comes surrounded by sensors for manoeuvring and the blind-spot monitoring, and with a reversing camera. These are important because the thick rear pillars create a significant blind spot.

The camera image is shown on the 5.8-inch screen that pops up out of the dashboard and also shows media functions and phone connectivity which are controlled using a circular wheel and buttons that fall easily to hand.

In fact, the whole ergonomic nature of the Audi’s interior is a comfortingly consistent and thankfully different from those manufacturers trying to go all ‘touchscreen’ which just ends up being a usability nightmare.

On the road

The 2-litre turbo TFSI is plenty fast enough for your average motoring with 100kph coming up in 6.7 seconds while retaining a respectable 5.9 litres per 100km fuel economy. If you want to bait supercars, then you can go for the S3 which drops the 0-100 to just 4.6 seconds.

The A3 is very quiet when the road is smooth, but the tyre choice was noisy on some of the rural roads I drove it on. It is willing and able to switch directions very responsively with little body roll. Its flaw is that the steering is too light and therefore making too much input on the corners is easy to do.

Riding on 18-inch wheels and 225/40R18 tyres, you might expect the ride to be crashy, but it’s not at all. It’s firm, but not overly firm. The seats are both supportive and comfortable, and it is easy to get the ideal driving position. Look in the boot, and you’ll find a nice high floor with a space saver wheel underneath. There are 365 litres of space which is more than the competing BMW 1 Series.

If you want more space you need to go with the sedan version which has 425 litres!

Welcome as standard are safety features such as Audi Pre-sense City. It gives the driver a series of warnings followed by braking automatically if a developing hazard is detected and not responded to. Audi says it can fully prevent accidents at up to 40km/h and significantly reduce the impact of accidents at speeds up to 85km/h.

Of course, there’s the usual suite of safety features that are now standard on all cars including electronic stability control, plus seven airbags and adaptive cruise control.


And that’s the problem: the Golf GTI is every bit as good performance-wise but a good chunk of cashless. But the Audi’s interior is better, and VW isn’t perceived as a premium Euro brand while Audi is, so which would you rather park in your double internal-access garage?

Note: this was reviewed as a new vehicle

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