The success of Audi is due to three things
Firstly they make top notch cars; secondly Princess Diana was given one for her own personal use as were her two sons and finally the company’s corporate tagline of Vorsprung durch Technik meaning Progress through Technology was one of the most successful slogans invented and which people loved.
It was first used in English-language advertising in the 1980s and in the original British television commercials. The phrase was voiced by actor Geoffrey Palmer and after its repeated use in advertising campaigns, the phrase found its way into popular culture, including the British comedy Only Fools and Horses.
I’ve just been driving the latest Audi A3 and I was quite surprised to be reminded that the A3 has just celebrated its 25th birthday. Yep it’s been around since 1996 which was when Audi decided that they should take on the VW Golf and this model is the fourth generation.
And like all Audi models the A3 is another top of the class winner.
It’s sophisticated, good looking and has the sort of quality not found in other manufacturers.
Prices start around £25,000 and you can get either a five door sportback or four door saloon with four equipment levels. There is both petrol and diesel available – the petrol is a 1.0-litre unit with 109bhp and a 1.5-litre engine with 148bhp. The 2.0-litre diesel powerplant has two separate power outputs – the 30 TDI with 114bhp and the 35 TDI producing 148bhp.
The lower-powered versions come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, while the powerful types have the seven-speed S tronic box.
While I was lucky and and managed to get my hands on the A3 Sportback 40 TFSI e S line S tronic. This is the start of tomorrow where the motoring future lies and naturally Audi are right at the front of the queue.
This plug in hybrid is not a cheap car and prices start at £35,000.
The engine is a 1.4-litre 4cyl plus e-motor with power/torque at 201bhp/350Nm. It’s front wheel drive with a six speed dual clutch auto box and power to die for. Top speed is 140mph, 0-62mph in just over seven seconds and you easily get 50 miles to the gallon. This can give you a top 200mpg if you use the electric system properly, and 37 miles to the gallon using just the electric alone.
You can top up the car’s 13kWh battery with a wallbox in around four hours so an overnight session is easy peasy. And on taxation you are in the 12 per cent tax band. An electric-only mileage is eight per cent,.
The A3 pulls away in EV mode by default and up to 30mph means quiet driving. The motor’s ability to power torque when the engine is still getting up to speed makes for bags of punch. And when you are just using petrol the A3 is one of the great smooth operators. The A3 handles like a dream.
As well as the touch screen MMI Touch infotainment system and the Audi Virtual Cockpit, standard features of the A3 Sportback 45 TFSI e S line Competition also include navigation and web-based Audi connect services, dual-zone electronic climate control, front sport seats with S embossing, twin leather upholstery and the assistance systems Audi pre sense front, lane departure warning, turn assist and swerve assist.
Externally, exclusive S line styling details are complemented by privacy glass, a black styling package that darkens elements such as the grille surround, window cappings and door mirror housings, and 18-inch 5-Y-spoke design alloy wheels in graphite grey.
Red calipers draw attention to the brake discs sitting behind these, which are larger than those of the 40 TFSI e, measuring 340 millimetres in diameter at the front and 310 millimetres at the rear.
The headlamps and tail lights with their dynamic rear indicators use LED technology as standard, and can be optionally upgraded to include Matrix LED headlamp units that illuminate with even more depth and precision and feature dynamic cornering lights. The digital daytime running lights incorporated in these upgraded units comprise 15 LED segments which generate an E-shaped light signature – the symbol of the plug-in hybrid drive.
And do remember with every Audi there are thousands of features which means you will have to spend a couple of days learning all the things this car can do.
My wife described it as a nanny car. That’s when the warning came up to tell us that the vision outside the car wasn’t 100 per cent. How would we have worked that?
I try to switch off as many bits as I can and that has to happen every time you turn it on.
But on top of it all the Audi is without doubt the best of the German range. I’ve never come across a bad one. Solid, dependable and fun to drive. The A3 is yet another.