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Like the Sedan, the Audi A3 Sportback is a capable, premium and high-tech compact car that delivers plenty of functionality, but it's not the one I'd have.

17 Aug 2021


In the past three months, I've driven two variants of the new Golf, two variants of the new Skoda Octavia, and, including this one, two variants of the new Audi A3.

That makes it six cars that are built on the same VW MQB Evo platform and use the same mild-hybrid 1.5-litre powertrain. So, needless to say, I'm more than a little familiar with this formula.

Backing track

The A3 Sportback offers buyers the added convenience and functionality of a five-door hatchback
This is the new Audi A3 Sportback, a premium compact hatchback that aims to deliver an elevated experience compared to the Golf, while also simultaneously competing against the likes of the BMW 1 Series and the Mercedes-Benz A-Class Hatchback.

I must admit that the A3 Sportback's form factor isn't the most visually engaging. Where the Golf has an immediately iconic and identifiable visual persona, and where I think the A3 Sedan is really handsome, the A3 Sportback is pleasant but mild-looking.

Inside, it's typical Audi fare, exactly as you'd find in the A3 Sedan. You get a high-tech cabin and plenty of premium-feeling materials.

Ample standard equipment include wireless Apple CarPlay
Space-wise, it's comparable to the Golf (obviously), though not identical. The roof is slightly more raked with this Audi, so there's a tad less headroom at the rear. The overall height of the A3 Sportback is 41mm lower than the Golf, though I suspect that's also a matter of the ride height being lower.

This car's 380-litre boot is the same as the Golf, though smaller than the Sedan's 425 litres.

Back it up

On the road, it's good news all around. The mild-hybrid 1.5-litre powertrain is capable and reasonably efficient. With 148bhp and 250Nm of torque available, acceleration is brisk and smooth. And, driven reasonably, you can expect to achieve 14km/L.

The 1.5-litre engine pumps out a smooth 148bhp and 250Nm of torque
The multi-link rear suspension also means that, like the Sedan variant, this A3 Sportback demonstrates a level of ride sophistication and composure that outshine the Golf.

The driving characteristics of this car are basically identical to the Sedan - comfortable and smooth on highways, accurate and composed through bends, and definitely delivering a premium experience befitting its premium badge and pricetag.

Which to back?

This brings us to the big question (I think) - which should you get, the Sportback or the Sedan?

Mild-hybrid technology allows the engine to operate with half its cylinders off, thus maximising fuel efficiency
The A3 Sportback is a premium, well-equipped and capable-driving hatchback. However, the Sedan variant has historically been favoured. Singapore is still a more traditional-minded market that prefers sedans, especially in the premium segment where hatchbacks are a relatively recent introduction.

With the new A3, I think the Sedan will continue to be favoured, though perhaps for a slightly different reason. See, this Sportback model will inevitably draw quick comparisons to the Golf, owing to the same body type and platform. And, at its $166,140 asking price (prices as of 1 June 2021), it's almost $24k more than the top-spec Golf. And for even less money, you can even have the new Seat Leon (another car that's built on the same platform).

While capable and well-rounded in its own right, the A3 Sportback faces tough competition across multiple fronts
At the same time, there's also competition with the 1 Series and the A-Class Hatchback. The 116i is cheaper (but down on power), and the base A-Class is just about the same money. But, BMW and Mercedes-Benz both still have greater badge appeal.

So, that's plenty of tough competition all around.

The Sedan has less obvious comparisons. The only direct comparison is the A-Class Saloon. So, in that sense, it has less ubiquity to have to deal with. Not to mention that I think it's the better-looking car.

It's certainly the one I'd rather have.

Car Information

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Audi A3 Sportback Mild Hybrid 1.5 TFSI S tronic (A)
Rate it

Price

: $167,635

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1498cc

Horsepower

:

-

Torque

:

250 Nm / 3500 rpm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A) S tronic

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

8.4sec

Top Speed

:

224km/h

Fuel consumption

:

unknown

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audi  audi a3  a3  a3 sportback  sportback  audi sportback  golf  vw  mqb