Audi A3 1.4 TSI (2008) Sport CAR review

Published: 25 March 2008

Logic dictates that you should just ignore the Audi A3 and buy a Golf, because it's more spacious, cheaper and better-equipped. But logic would deny you an appealing car if accommodation matters less to you than image. There's no denying the A3 is a slick little hatchback, and the hi-tech appeal of this little turbocharged 1.4-litre engine suits it well.

An Audi A3 turbo? So it's quick then...

Don't get too carried away. Think of this engine as punching above its weight, spinning sweetly but with plenty of overtaking urge. It'll get you to 62mph in less than ten seconds and carry on to a maximum of 128mph, so it certainly isn't slow, and it pumps out 154g/km of CO2 and returns 43.5mpg, so it's pretty clean and efficient too. All of which points to the 1.4TFSI being a sweet spot in the A3 range.
Clearly it's not intended to be a hot hatch but, by Audi standards, it's quite entertaining to drive, handling neatly and safely if without quite the verve of a Golf, and riding without the domineering over-firmness of faster Audis. Whatever you do, don't order it with sports suspension. This A3 just doesn't need it, and it ruins the ride.Does it feel good inside?

Just like any A3, the interior is a nice place to spend time. The low-line dash is ergonomically sound and beautifully finished, the seats firmly supportive and it all feels extremely solid and built to last.
But it's also spectacularly predictable and (once you've got past the tactile surfaces) just uninteresting. The A3 is starting to feel old. And it's not as roomy as a Golf either, either in the cabin or in the boot.

Verdict

At £18,365, the A3 TFSI Sport costs substantial money, especially as you'll pay extra for sat-nav, auto-wipers and auto-headlamps. Similar money buys the Golf GT, with a supercharger as well as a turbo and 168bhp to play with. The Audi scores on its plusher finish but the Golf is a much more rounded car and far more entertaining to drive, as well as being much more practical. Logic has a lot going for it.
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