WITH record world wide sales last year and the Audi A3 just being named as the best car for retaining its residual values the third generation of the desirable A3 seems set to maintain the success story of the premium German brand, writes Bryan Longworth.
The trailblazing three door A3 created a new market of premium compact class when it debuted in 1996 quickly becoming an extremely popular model.
On the outside it does not look all that different from the previous model but the styling has been enhanced especially at the front where the distinctive single frame radiator grille is next to the wave shaped headlamps.
The A3 has also lost weight being 80kg less than the previous model and it is also more fuel efficient and quieter.
On test was the A3 2.0 TDI SE which is the lowest priced diesel costing £20,860.
As soon as I started driving the new model it immediately felt just right. Handling and the way the A3 behaved especially on fast winding country roads, which are always a good test for any car, proved that this Audi is as good as they get in this sector. The quality interior was just as impressive with an easy to select driving position and easy to see and well designed instruments being so user friendly.
There is a decent sized boot and underneath it there is a space saver spare wheel which is something of a rarity these days.
The only downside for me is that I prefer cars with two rear doors - and not three door hatchbacks as the A3 is until the five door arrives - because they are more practical for access and I also feel that those distinctive Audi LED daytime driving lights should now be standard on all models.
But that is only a personal thing. Overall the latest A3 while it does not appear to be all that much different is a car that overall makes the driving experience that bit more enjoyable and fulfilling.
My Verdict: Like vintage wine the A3 just gets better.
Model: New Audi A3 2.0 TDI SE.
Engine: 2.0-litre four cylinder diesel.
Transmission: Six speed manual.
Top speed: 134mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph: 8.6 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 68.9mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 106g/km.