THERE were times when I had the A3 cabrio long-termer earlier this year that I could have cheerfully set it on fire, such as when attempting a smooth throttle application while reverse parking. And Audi Australia ended up letting me have that one for twice as long as initially planned.
Conversely, Iíd have happily hung onto the replacement sedan indefinitely. But then, as Murphyís Law would have it, the call came to return it bang-on three months after picking it up. The next day, ideally, because its registration was due.
Of course, I didnít know this because we donít have rego window labels any more.
However Ė with due respect to the busy team that puts together my favourite mag Ė as a Wheels contributor I have experience in handling last-minute requests, so this wasnít a problem.
Iíd also noticed that the A3 was asking, via the instrument panel display screen, for an oil change in a week. Suddenly, on more than one front, the game was up.
There was no time for a last fang, or a misty-eyed goodbye. I didnít even get the chance to give it my usual wash and vacuum send-off. Sorry, Audi.
Fortunately, the A3 sedanís one and only proper trip had come just a week earlier, which allowed me to learn a bit more about the model.
While Iíd been impressed with the A3ís urban economy, these conditions obviously donít deliver its best. After a round trip from Sydney to the Hunter Valley, the trip computer showed 5.7L/100km, which turned out to be pretty accurate; a fuel fill a few days after returning Ė so including a bit of urban driving in the figure Ė gave an actual 6.1.
Maybe I have a pyromaniac streak because I once wanted to burn my Clio RS to the ground after driving it on a coarse-surfaced stretch near Kulnura. This certainly wasnít the case in the A3, though the Audi still fell short of my expectation of smooth, well-isolated cruising.
My cars live in the city so their urban behaviour carries the most weight. The A3 is a bit noisier and busier on country roads than ideal, but I donít drive there much, so Iím good with it. Still, on those flowing roads, the modestly powered Audiís fluency on 17-inch wheels and tyres left me convinced of its general dynamic goodness, if no more satisfied with its slick and responsive but low-feel steering.
This trip Ė and the unceremonious end to our three months together Ė helped me focus my thoughts on the A3 1.4 TSFI Attraction CoD sedan. Itís practical, solid, good looking, efficient, effortless and handles well. I liked it.
A manual gearbox option would remove my major criticism Ė a lack of low-speed polish from the dual-clutch Ė while adding involvement
Would the Volkswagen Groupís self-inflicted woes stop me from buying a base A3? I donít think so. But a Volkswagen Golf might. The Golf 92TSI takes the qualities I like about the base A3 and magnifies them; itís less pretentious and even more basic inside, and itís half the price and weighs less ... As a blatant opportunist, in the current environment Iíd drive a hard bargain on either of them.
Date acquired: August 2015 Price as tested: $43,090 This month: 452km @ 6.1L/100km Overall: 1756km @ 7.7L/100km m