The Esquire Drive

New Audi A3

It’s under the skin where the new Audi A3 really shows its mettle. 

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Car ads haven’t changed much over the years — man alone at the wheel, descending a deserted and spectacular coastal road in late afternoon sunshine, with a slight smirk that says, “Jesus, I made some good life decisions to get here.”

Of course, unless you happen to be a lighthouse keeper nipping out to buy some milk, this is not most people’s typical daily drive. Real driving involves plodding traffic, waiting at the lights, accelerating unnecessarily fast to the next set before the cycle repeats again.

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In short, driving is now as much about sitting around and enjoying the space you’re in, something not lost on Audi judging by the new version of its top-selling model in the UK, the A3.

Outside, Audi has gone for an “if it ain’t broke” approach to design, subtly sharpening things up with what it calls “evolutionary” changes — in other words, you’d need a forensics team to spot them. It’s inside the cabin that the A3 has taken a genuine jump forward.

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The level of finish and gadgetry on offer is more typical of flagship executive models — plush seats, dashboard detailing and strokeable materials shout “premium” as soon as you hear the door clunk. It’s roomier too, thanks to an extended wheelbase compared to the last model. And gadget-wise, there are more extras on offer here than a Berlusconi massage. Radar cruise control, anyone?

Under the skin, it’s all change. Almost everything — engine, electronics, gearbox — is brand new and the result is a car that is lighter, livelier and more responsive than its predecessor when the lights do go green. If you’re going to get stuck in traffic, this is a nice place to get stuck in. Audi clearly understand, that for many drivers, it’s what’s inside that counts.

Engine..........1,798cc
Max power......178bhp
0–60mph.......7.2secs
Top speed.....144mph
Price.............£24,410

What do you think?

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