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Audi A3

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Audi’s new A3 impressed us when we first drove it in June at its European launch, we drove the 1.6-litre TDI model which offers 105hp and 250Nm of torque, there’s also three petrol variants available, with the entry-level 1.2-litre TFSI priced from €25,900. Audi Ireland is continuing to increase its market share across the country, with an increase in sales. They sold 3,700 units for the first eight months of 2012, this surpasses their total sales for 2011 of 3,410 units, and they expect to have an approximate 4.6 per cent market share by the end of 2012. In order to maintain their strong growth Audi Ireland is investing €80 million into its dealer network, with new Audi Terminal Style dealerships opening in key locations around the country. Audi Waterford just opened its doors last week, with further terminals due to open before the year end and early next year.

The A3 has been a success for the German brand over the years, with in excess of 2.8 million units sold worldwide, since its first introduction in 1996. This new A3 has been designed by an Irishman, David Caffery. It’s the first vehicle to utilise the Volkswagen Groups’ MKB Platform, which will feature throughout a variety of new models including the new mk7 Volkswagen Golf and Seat Leon.

Now, back on Irish roads we have tested the 2.0-litre TDI variant, the increase in power over the 1.6-litre TDI A3 is noticeable, with 150hp produced and a hefty 320Nm of torque. The strong torque curve certainly makes for ease of progress on a long journey. Audi claims a combined fuel consumption of 4.1l/100km, which like most manufacturers’ claims, is somewhat optimistic in real-world motoring scenarios. To be fair, we averaged a very respectable 5.2l/100km (54 mpg) over the duration of a week’s drive which included a mixture of motorway and town drives. The six-speed manual transmission is light to touch and as a result of having plenty of torque accessible, you don’t have to change gears too often. Whilst the 1.6-litre TDI may be less expensive to purchase, if you drive for a considerable annual mileage, we’d recommend this 2.0-litre TDI variant for improved performance. Our test car was finished in Sport Trim (€31,500) which adds some interior and exterior styling enhancements as well as handling improvements, with the addition of sports suspension and Audi’s Drive Select which lets you choose from differing driving modes, such as comfort, efficiency and dynamic. The interior is one of the A3’s high-points, there’s a sense of luxury combined with high-quality switch gear more familiar with Audi’s high-end models. As standard across all A3’s is the fitment of a super-thin 5.8” retractable screen for the MMI Radio and navigation. There are new toggle switches for selecting the various menus, these are straightforward and intuitive to use. Just some of the standard features across the A3 range includes, air conditioning, 16” alloys, Bluetooth interface, driver information system and a leather multifunction steering wheel. Our Sport model benefits from figure-hugging sports seats, finished in Alcantara which is also used on the door cards. The A3’s interior, even in the entry-level specification is class-leading over such rivals as the BMW 1-Series, Volvo V40 and Volkswagen Golf.

This 2.0-litre TDI variant is seated in tax band A, as a result of emitting just 106g/km of CO2. The A3 is a conquest model for Audi, being the first Audi model for the majority of its new customers. This new A3 offers value with a combination of style, performance and economy to further grow Audi’s sales. 2013 will see the introduction of the 5-door A3 Sportback, this will no doubt further add to the car’s appeal.

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