Oilís well on the refinement front

Polished performance means the A3ís lustre continues to shine

JAMES WHITBOURN

AUDIís cylinder-on-demand system might amount to shutting off a couple of pots, but the sharp, precise movements of the tacho suggests thereís something more high-tech happening inside the A3ís turbo 1.4 than mere reciprocating pistons and valves.

Nothing so futuristic it doesnít burn any petrol, of course, because, at the risk of sounding like an environmental vandal, at this stage of the green revolution, not combusting something to go for a drive still seems a bit boring.

Whatever is in there, it works, because the 1.4 TFSI CoD dismisses urban driving with insouciance; you donít need to send the tachoís regimented needle into the red to find shove because it always seems to have enough just above idle. But if you do rev it Ė just like burning precious resources, I enjoy doing this Ė the power delivery makes it worth your trouble. As well as low-rev flexibility, it has a satisfying top end. Itís quick enough and it sounds subtly rorty.

When it rains, the A3 wheelspins easily. If you call for a max straight-line sprint in these conditions, the 250Nm on tap makes the front-end feel unglued.

The A3 Sedan does not entertain like the best small cars, or even the best MQB chassis cars (think Golf GTI). But put aside the lack of steering feel and there are positives, including a generally sweet front-to-rear balance, the dry-road grip level, and the trustworthiness of the nose.

These dynamic qualities, with light control weights, an obedient paddle-shift seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and an enthusiastic engine, make the A3 a terrific point-and-shoot car. It feels strong and safe, is efficient and looks slick.

Aside from the lack of steering connection and handling edge, the unsubtle way the dual-clutch tips in remains my biggest gripe.

Itís not smooth, and it asks for patience from the driver, which can make parking and other low-speed manoeuvres snatchy Ė and make me look like a lummox.

Otherwise, the smooth leather of the steering wheel sums up the A3 sedanís character; itís a polished operator thatís made to a high standard.

All considered, $43K seems like pretty good value. It wants for little except interior space, and thatís not a problem for me or my usage.

Yep, Iím growing to like the A3 Sedan, which is an about-face from my opinion of the A3 Cabrio, and much more in step with my broader views of the brand.

MARKET FORCE

Baby Audi plays shopping trolley with panache, with pert, booted behind holding about 425 litres

The benefit of progress

THE A3ís consumption improved slightly this month ó itís hovering in the eights, which I think is great given the short, trafficky trips I usually do. My assessment comes by comparing this figure to old cars I had ó an early í90s Ford Laser and an early noughties RS Clio ó that did nines and 8.5s respectively with the same driving. The CoD is thriftier than either of them, despite weighing 25 percent more, having a turbocharger and more torque.

AUDI A3 1.4TFSI SEDAN

Date acquired: August 2015 Price as tested: $43,090 This month: 775km @ 8.2L/100km Overall: 1304km @ 8.3L/100km