Goodbye sunshine, you’ll be missed. No, not summer, although that’s now just another fading memory. The sunny mood-enhancer I’m going to really miss is the bright yellow Audi A3 Sportback that has just departed at the end of its time on the Diesel Car long-termer fleet. Of all ëOur Carsí, it was the cheeriest in the car park and I’m really sad to see it depart.
Reflecting back on its time with us, there is much to praise, and it’s a bit of a struggle to find anything much to gripe about. Reliability-wise, it has been flawless. There was a brief moment early on when the tyre pressure warning light came on, but that was in response to a minimal drop in tyre pressure just after a particularly long trip. A bit of air added, warning light reset, and it has never recurred. So no faults and no costs incurred, other than refuelling, in almost a year of use. Iím happy about that.
What have we particularly liked about the A3? So many things. The way it drives, with low-stress smoothness and precision. The solidly reliable and willing 2.0-litre diesel engine, with a strong power output and plenty of torque. The slick six-speed gearbox with its well-spaced ratios. The body colour, of course, and the way it mimics an ultra-sporty S3. Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, with its display change button, adjustable size of dials and the ability to have navigation mapping on view directly in front of you. That’s a big plus.
The circular air vents are pleasing both in their design and their slick functionality. We love details that not only look good but work really well too. The volume control for the audio system and navigation is so handily placed just to the right of the gearstick, for speed and efficiency of use. It’s been good that the glass sunroof has a see-through blind to pull across it in bright weather, reducing glare while still letting in some invaluable light. It’s like having a big pair of sunglasses shading the car’s cabin, without shutting out all of the light.
For its overall size, which is reasonably compact with a neat footprint on the road, the A3 Sportback has a pretty big boot. I’ve been gratified by how much it will hold, including on several occasions a relative’s wheelchair as well as several big bags of stuff. Then there’s the neat tablet-style infotainment screen that slides out of sight when you switch off, unlike those in some other premium cars that sit permanently atop the dash like last-minute add-ons.
What else? The sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel, leaving generous space beneath it for your thighs, is another plus. The driving position, which is set higher than in some rival cars and lets you have quite a commanding view of the road. We’ve also loved the sporty look of the twin exhaust pipes, and convenience details like the automatically swivelling mirrors and rear-view camera for ease of reversing, and the non-dazzle convenience of the automatically dipping headlights.
What would we change, having lived with the car on a daily basis for 10 months? There are a few Marmite items. The roof lining is quite dark, and a paler shade would be less gloomy on dull days. That’s a personal preference, though, and doubtless many would approve of having such a scuff-resistant ceiling. The USB socket located inside the centre armrest is not the most convenient place, and I’d prefer it to be on the lower dash ahead of the gearstick. When you’re not particularly tall, the ‘chicken-wing’ gesture of locating a socket that’s semi-behind you is mildly irksome. Of course, if it is your mobile phone that you’re wanting to charge, there’s the possibility of doing so wirelessly via the Audi Phone Box inductive charge, except that it hasn’t worked with my iPhone 7. But that’s more of an Apple problem, and it is resolved with the new iPhone 8.
So, it’s goodbye sunny A3 Sportback and weíre sad to see you go. The price is premium, but so is the product, and it feels like a lot of very likeable and practical car for the money. Time for change. Next month, new wheels.
Date arrived 20th December 2016
Fuel economy urban/extra urban/combined 55.4/74.3/65.7mpg
The way the headlights automatically dip in response to oncoming traffic.
Watching the tail of the A3 departing up the road. It has been sunny company and I’m sad to see it go.