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June Neary on Audi's shapely supermini
Added 23rd November, 2018
If you've ever wondered just how much style and luxury is really possible in a really small car, then it's worth trying one of these. In distilling the essence of 'Audi-ness' into something this compact, the German brand set this A1 apart in the supermini segment, offering a balance between sportiness, quality and comfort that rivals are still struggling to match. True, ground-breaking technology wasn't on the agenda here, but there's a place for that and it probably isn't in this very price-conscious sector of the market. What's more important is that if you climb out of an expensive A4 or A6 into an A1 costing half as much, the feeling is very much the same
That's even more the case with this improved post-2014-era model, with its smarter finish and hi-tech Audi connect infotainment options. All right, so in overall terms, the revisions made to this supermini weren't especially far-reaching, but then they didn't really need to be. There's nothing else in this segment from this era that's quite as polished and premium. The A1 then, is an expensive-feeling little car that for the canny secondhand buyer, may now be just about affordable. A tempting option then.
To celebrate twenty years of production, the third generation Audi TT coupe gets a useful package of improvements that include mild changes to the mechanicals, the cabin and the exterior. As before, it really makes the numbers when it comes to performance and efficiency. Choose from 2.0 or 2.5-litre petrol, front or quattro all-wheel drive.
As for styling changes to this enhanced model, well the main one is a revised design for the three-dimensional Singleframe radiator grille and larger side air inlets. Inside, the fascia is dominated by the Audi Virtual Cockpit, now featuring an additional sport display providing information on engine output, torque and g forces.
This fifth generation Audi A4 now features a sharper look and continues to claim to be class-leading in nearly all the areas that really matter to business buyers in the compact executive segment. That means efficiency, cabin quality, practicality and technology. As a result, it'll be hard to ignore if you're looking for a car of this kind. The external changes made to this fifth generation A4 are relatively slight. The full-LED headlamps have been re-designed and flank a broader, flatter Singeframe grille complemented by re-sculpted bumpers.
Prices have inevitably risen slightly, but still occupy much the same bracket as before, so expect to be paying somewhere between £30,000 and £40,000 for most models, with a premium of £1,400 for the Avant estate bodystyle. Audi is gradually introducing its mild hybrid 48-volt technology across the four and six cylinder petrol and diesel engines in the A4 line-up. Their power outputs range from 150PS to 347PS - from the Audi A4 35 TFSI up to the Audi S4 TDI, that S4 now featuring diesel power for the first time.
This current version of Audi's third generation A3 Sportback gets some efficient petrol and diesel engines, the option of the brand's classy Virtual Cockpit instrument display and hi-tech media connectivity. Its strengths remain in excellent build quality, impressive refinement and decent five-door practicality. It's still very much an aspirational ordinary product.
The range now begins with the downsized 115PS 1.0-litre TFSI unit used in the base '30 TFSI' petrol model. Next up is the 1.5 TFSI COD petrol engine used in the '35 TFSI' variant, which offers 150PS. If you want more power, then the next step is the 2.0 TFSI unit used in the '40 TFSI' petrol model. The diesel line-up is familiar, things kicking off with the usual 1.6-litre TDI powerplant used in the '30 TDI' variant developing 116PS. Above that sits the consistently popular 150PS 2.0-litre TDI unit used in the '35 TDI' model. There's also a top diesel variant, the '40 TDI', which uses a 184PS version of this same 2.0-litre TDI powerplant and comes only with the quattro drivetrain.
Otherwise, things are much as they were. Like its three-door stablemate, this Sportback is light in bulk, heavy in technology and as at home in Belgravia as it is in Brixton.
Audi knows better than most manufacturers that there's never a one-size-fits-all solution to modern motoring, hence the range of options offered by its various Q-series models. This one could well be all the car you actually need if you're searching for a compact premium used crossover. Don't think of it as a shrunken version of its Q5 compact SUV stablemate. It isn't really any kind of SUV, instead offering a smarter, more up-market take on the current trend towards lifestyle-orientated Qashqai-class five-seat Crossovers. Sensible, stylish, fashionable cars that are striking such a sweet spot in the current market.
As with almost any model of this kind, this one can easily manage the school run, an extended shopping trip, a weekend away or the annual family ski trip to Chamonix. The difference here though, lies in the quality, the depth of engineering and the sheer feel-good factor that you'll get by having this car on your driveway.
Compromises necessary to create its relatively affordable price tag have been cleverly chosen and detract little from the extremely polished end result. One that in this improved first generation guise delivers on its promises of greater efficiency and extra technology. It's a little sharper to drive too, though could still be more responsive in that respect. Ultimately though, this Audi's priorities lie in other areas. Yes, you can certainly buy something slightly bigger and SUV-ish for this kind of money. But after trying a Q3, you probably won't want to.
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