We got off to a bad start with the Audi A3 after a warning light showed the battery in the
electronic key needed replacing.

As our test vehicle was supplied with just the one key, it was a job that we couldn’t afford
to put off.

You’d think the manual, one of several items of paperwork in the glovebox, would specify
exactly what kind of battery was required . . . but alas, no.

Either way it meant prising open the key, being careful not to damage the casing, which
was not an easy feat, and when we finally managed to pop the cover, it fell between the
centre console and driver’s seat.

To give this some context, it all happened right as it started to rain, in a shopping centre
carpark, five minutes after we had headed off for a weekend away. Ouch!

Hatchbacks or ‘Sportbacks’ as Audi refers to them have become a bit passe. Confusing
the issue, Audi also offers Sportback versions of its SUVs, which generally means a
sloping, less convenient rear roofline.

Our test vehicle looked very German, finished in Manhattan grey with a black interior. It
was fitted with a number of options, including the optional $370 dark aluminium inlays,
$650 power tailgate, metallic paint $1250 and the $2600 Comfort Package.

The latter adds an auto dimming rear view mirror, power folding exterior mirrors, heated
power-adjust front seats with electric lumbar adjustment, adaptive cruise control with stop
and go, traffic jam assist and emergency assist.

For an Audi the A3 looks the part but definitely feels down-market, with a plastic-looking
grille, generic door trim and the use of some cheap plastic surfaces inside.

But the Audi DNA is certainly there, with sporty ride and handling, and the bonus of
exceptional fuel economy.

Standard kit includes 18-inch alloys, leather appointed trim and dual zone climate air,
three-spoke leather steering wheel with multifunction plus and shift paddles, LED
headlights, auto lights and wipers and heated exterior mirrors.

Audi A3 is covered by a 5-year warranty with service due every 15,000km or 12 months,
with a five-year prepaid service plan available priced at $2250.

Infotainment is built around six-speaker audio and a big, bright, responsive 10.1-inch
touchscreen that is inset in the dash, rather than freestanding as it was before (and is the

The system includes voice control, built-in navigation, DAB+ digital radio, wired Android
Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity, wireless phone charging, and two USB
outlets and a 12v outlet in the front console for charging and connectivity.

You also get Audi connect plus functionality, with online traffic, weather conditions, fuel
prices, parking information and Google satellite map overlay, together with additional
features available through the myAudi app — like remote lock/unlock, service request and
emergency call thanks to an embedded SIM.

The 1.5-litre powertrain offers the same 110kW and 250Nm of torque as its 1.4-litre
predecessor, but despite the 100cc increase in displacement, provides lower fuel use
than before.

Drive is to the front wheels via a seven-speed S-tronic dual clutch transmission, automatic
start-stop, paddle shifters for keen drivers and a sportier S mode if you’re feeling lazy.

Five-star safety comprises seven airbags including a centre bag, Audi pre-sense city with
auto emergency braking (including pedestrian and cyclist detection), side assist, lane
assist, cruise control with speed limiter, park assist with rear view camera and tyre
pressure indicator.

Introduced earlier this year, the current Audi A3 35 TFSI features a new 1.5-litre four-
cylinder engine with Cylinder On Demand (COD) and a mild-hybrid system.

A belt alternator starter (BAS) is installed on the engine, feeding a 48-volt electrical system
that integrates a compact lithium-ion battery located under the driver’s seat.

The transmission lever has been replaced by a toggle which you pinch between your
thumb and forefinger to change between forward and reverse, with two pulls back for S

It’s a better, easier to use solution than the rotary dial offered by some and frees up space
on the console.
No so the circular, touch-activated, console-mounted volume control. A standard knob
would have sufficed.

It’s fairly well behaved for a twin clutch transmission, but doesn’t like chop and change — or
plonking it off the line.

Runflats have been replaced by a tyre repair kit.

The 18-inch wheels are shod with Pirelli P7 Cinturato rubber which deliver great roll-on
movement, with hardly any input from the throttle required most of the time. The tradeoff is
tyre noise, particularly at motorway speeds.

In fact, the car appears to use hardly any fuel because of the largish 50-litre tank and low
rate of consumption, helped along by cylinder deactivation and a free-wheeling

Ride and handling are sporty, firm and precise, with good communication about what’s
going on underneath the car through the steering wheel.

The layout of the dash and instruments is overly complex and confusing. It can leave the
driver not knowing which way to turn or which button to press, with dull lettering making
the job of deciphering functions harder than it should be, especially when the car is in
motion. Obviously, owners of the car would soon work it out and use it correctly, but for a
journo with only a week with the car it was problem.

Each time you stop the car, you have to remember to push the separate park button, push
the off switch and from time to time apply the handbrake (sometimes it engages
automatically, sometimes it doesn’t). Forget the handbrake and it has a tendency to lurch

You can reduce the busyness of the instrument cluster with two basic configurations
available and the ability to dictate what appears between the dials.

Navigation can be displayed between the dials.

But here’s a tip, turn off Google Earth and use the basic graphics or the screen will
become so busy and difficult to follow it’s apt to drive you nuts.
And while the map can be displayed between the two dials, the current speed limit doesn’t
come over from the touchscreen.

The entry A3 is a mixed bag. The dynamics are sporty, but many features that should be
standard are options such as an auto dimming rear view mirror and adaptive cruise

Even at $50K by the time you put the A3 on the road, you could find yourself paying more
than you bargained for.

Like many others, Audi has been affected by the global supply shortage, so some
inclusions have become exclusions — so be sure to check the fine print.

Looks: 7
Performance: 7.5
Safety: 8
Thirst: 8
Practicality: 7
Comfort: 7
Tech: 7.5
Value: 7
Overall: 7.4


Available as Sportback (or sedan)
A3 1.5L 35 TFSI, $46,900 ($49,400)
A3 2.0L 40 TFSI quattro S line, $53,500 ($56,000)
S3 2.0L TFSI quattro, $70,343 ($72,391)
RS3 2.5 TFSI S quattro, $91,391 ($93,891)

Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact Audi for
drive-away prices.

Audi A3 35 TFSI hatchback, 1.5L Turbo 4-cylinder petrol, 7sp DCT, FWD


Capacity: 1.5 litres
Configuration: 4-cylinder petrol, turbocharged with 48V mild hybrid
Maximum Power: 110 kW @ 5000-6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 250 Nm @ 1500-3500 rpm
Fuel Type: 95 premium unleaded petrol
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 5.0 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 114 g/km

7-speed dual-clutch automatic, front-wheel drive

Length: 4343 mm
Wheelbase: 2636 mm
Width: 1816mm
Height: 1149 mm
Turning Circle: 11.1 metres
Kerb Mass: 1395 kg

Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Disc

5 years / unlimited kilometres

About Chris Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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