First Drive: 2017 Audi A3

First Drive: 2017 Audi A3
 

The facelifted Audi A3 is now available with even more tech – but soon so will the Golf, writes Mark Smyth

What is this car all about?

Sales. And more sales. The Audi A3 is highly popular around the world and now the company has made it even better with new engines, more tech and a couple of design changes that you will only spot if you bought a pre-updated A3 last month.

2017 Audi A3

What’s under the hood?

Audi has grabbed the 1.0-litre from the A1 and put it into the entry-level model with 85kW to replace the 1.2. There is also a new 1.4 motor with cylinder-on-demand tech, while a 2.0-litre petrol lump replaces the old 1.8. Diesel fans get a 2.0-litre in place of the 1.6 TDI. But there’s more… engineers in Germany have finally agreed that while our fuel quality is crap, it is not as crap as it once was and so S3 owners can now have all the power that once only Europe was allowed. This means the S3 gets 18kW more at 228kW and an extra 20 Newtons at 400Nm.

2017 Audi A3

Does it stand out from the crowd?

Not if the crowd is the pre-facelift A3, but so what – the A3 is a great looking vehicle. And it puts you four rings above the VW Golf. If you tick a few options then you can also have Matrix LED lights, which automatically adjust to reduce glare and provide you with better visibility.

2017 Audi A3

What’s noteworthy on the inside?

Virtually nothing, but virtually everything. Interior changes are minimal but there is now the option of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit which is a big deal in the segment. This provides you with fully digital instrumentation which is super cool and will make all your friends who own anything else extremely jealous. That is until the new VW Golf 7.5 comes along next year which will also have a digital cluster.

2017 Audi A3

Is it good to drive?

Definitely. Even in the lower models, Audi engineers have put some serious effort into the dynamics and engine response. We drove various models at the coast where there was no sign of that infernal turbo lag. Although expect that to creep in as you get higher up. And the S3 is a true pocket rocket. In case you are wondering (and we know you are) the new RS3 will be here next year with the sedan in the second quarter and the Sportback in the fourth quarter.

2017 Audi A3

Who’s going to lose sleep about this car?

Anyone who bought a pre-facelift in the last few months will see the Virtual Cockpit haunting them in their nightmares for a start. Then there is VW. Until the Golf 7.5 gets here, the A3 easily kicks the Golf’s backside in terms of comfort and tech. BMW and Mercedes also have some catching up to do with new models still a couple of years away.