Car review – Audi A3 Sportback 40 TFSI e

Typical fleet product

If you're looking for a premium hatchback with a plug-in hybrid drive, the new Audi A3 Sportback is a must-consider. It does require some concessions, though.

 

Smooth operator

The new Audi A3 Sportback comes in two plug-in hybrid versions, the 40 and the 45 TFSI e. The "40" will probably appeal to most leasing drivers. It features a 150hp 1.4 petrol engine that works in conjunction with a 110hp electric motor integrated into the six-speed DSG automatic transmission. Combined, this makes 204hp and 350Nm.

This allows the A3 to sprint from 0 to 100km/h in just 7.6 seconds and to reach a top speed of 227km/h. Switching from electric to thermal is unnoticeable and smooth: the three drivetrain components are perfectly in sync with one another, resulting in a shock-free operation.

 

Considerable driving range

Audi promises an electric driving range of 65km (WLTP) thanks to the 13kWh battery. During our test with temperatures varying between 2 and 9 degrees Celsius the trip computer never promised more than 49 kilometres with a full battery.

Either way, that's a good number, which we achieved with a mix of city traffic and highways. Interestingly, it is possible to drive purely electrically on the motorway: the electric motor can power the A3 up to 140km/h on its own. When properly charged, as it should be with a plug-in, the A3 is also quite frugal with petrol.

 

Rough ride

The suspension of the S Line version with 17” rims is remarkably hard. You might want to think carefully about ordering those 18” or 19” wheels, because they harm the comfort and you can't fix that by choosing adaptive shock absorbers, because they are not available on this version.

The road holding is excellent, while the ergonomics are exemplary as well. Soundproofing, especially of tyre noise, could be better. There is plenty of space in the cabin, even in the back. The boot is a lot smaller than that of the non-hybrid versions: it is reduced from 380 to 280 litres.

Not a bargain

With a base price of just under €39,000, this A3 is steeply priced. Audi honours its reputation of being stingy by not including the navigation system in the standard equipment, even though it is indispensable on a plug-in hybrid car in order to make optimum use of the battery throughout the route.

The fit & finish is excellent as always, but the occasional hard plastics are a far cry from the soft and matt quality you can find in an A4 or A6.

Audi plays a solid trump card with this A3 but does not deliver a perfect report. The good performance and efficiency are balanced by a stiff suspension and sometimes disappointing interior materials. However, with the many equipment options you can turn it into a very complete car.

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      + Well-tuned drive unit

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      + Considerable driving range

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      + Roadholding

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      -Too hard suspension -Some disappointing cabin materials