mReview: 2022 Audi A3 Sportback 1.0 Litre - Efficient Affordable Fun
Truth be told, our testing team wasn’t exactly enthused when it came time to test the 1.0 litre A3 variants. No one was really chomping at bits to drive these cars.
The prejudice was unfair in hindsight, for the cars turned out to be really rather good. In fact, I’d now recommend potential buyers purchase this version of Audi’s compact executive saloon/hatchback over its larger-engined 1.5 litre variant.
Yes, you did not read that wrongly. This automotive journalist prefers what essentially is the de facto ‘base’ model over a higher specification car - really high praise for the former, then.
You Can’t Tell It Is A Three Banger
This is very much an Audi on the outside, with no visual compromise giving away its lesser powertrain. The chiselled Lamborghini aesthetic present in the 1.5 is carried more-or-less wholesale to this lower-tier car. Without the presence of variant-specific badging, you really cannot tell that this vehicle costs about $25,000 less than its Category “B” sibling.
And this bang-for-buck vibe continues in the cabin, where again you’d find an interior that is almost identical to the A3 1.5. I’m not going to spend time touching on the design of the vehicle - you can refer to my full in-depth review of the 1.5 cars for that.
This article’s main focal point is the bits that are different. I say bits, because it isn’t just the engine that the German automaker has swapped out for more simplistic replacements.
Of course, a large portion of the cost savings you enjoy from buying this particular variant stems from its new 1.0 litre engine, and the resultant reclassification to Category “A” COE. But Audi has also found other ways to further simplify the vehicle in a bid to lower the barriers of entry into continental car ownership.
For instance, gone is the multi-link suspension that you’d find in all other A3 variants locally - a torsion beam setup is what the 1.0 litre A3 has to make do with. In all honesty, with how good our roads generally are, ride quality isn’t all that compromised as compared to the 1.5 A3s.
Where you’d really feel the difference is when you are subjecting some serious load through the rear axle. The torsion beam does not offer the same levels of sure-footedness of its multi-link cousins, which may seem like a bad thing, until you realise just how much fun the car actually is.
You may not have the sheer firepower to lug the vehicle out of a sequence of corners, but the lower output translates into better steering feel on entry. Carry slightly more pace into some bends, and the economy-oriented suspension does tend to protest. Some symptoms include a rear end that moves underneath you, though thankfully, never in an uncontrolled fashion.
Which is why as controversial as it sounds, I actually prefer the overall experience of this A3 variant more than even the S3. The sense of drama and occasion makes up for the lack of brute power, something that the clinical 1.5 and S3 cars just lack, a problem that thankfully, also doesn’t plague the RS 3s.
What’s even more impressive, is that the car manages to still be extremely frugal even when you drive the pants off the car. Despite the enthusiasm at which I chose to drive the car, it returned a frankly impressive 15km/l. Putting my sensible bottoms on, the car convincingly returned close to 20km/l without me really trying to do so. Do keep in mind that this economy wasn’t done purely on the expressways as well.
Compromised It Is Not
There’s always a fear that base model cars would be compromised, that these vehicles will have obvious corner cutting in a bid to lower its price tag to appeal to a wider market. But that is just not the case in this new A3 variant.
It still has the same equipment, build quality and materials as any other Audi product. That translates into an unsullied Germanic user experience, with no sense that you’re getting shortchanged by buying a lower-tier car.
The thing that continues to dumbfound me, is that the bits Audi opted to replace with lower-tier components really only serves to amplify the user experience. This is not the norm, as more basic parts tend to mean the car feels more agricultural. In this guise, it helps to add a sense of drama and fun to a class of car that sorely needs it. Proof then, that “cheap” can coexist with “cheerful”.
$ 203,148 (inclusive of COE)
Engine: 1.0 litre Inline 3-cylinder engine
Power: 109 bhp
Torque: 200 Nm
Fuel Consumption: 23.3 km/l
0-100km/h: 10.6 Seconds
Top Speed: 210 km/h
Drivetrain: 7 Speed S Tronic transmission; Front-Wheel DriveBrakes: Ventilated Disc Brakes (Front), Discs (Rear)
Wheelbase: 2,636 mm
Dimensions (LxWxH): 4,495 mm x 1,816 mm x 1,425 mm
Fuel Tank Capacity: 45 litresBoot Capacity: 425 litres
Electric front seats
Audi park assist
Audi virtual cockpit plus
Park assist with parking aid Plus Cruise Control System
Photo Credit: ACube Creative (@weareacube)
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