Spot the difference. The Sportback is now wearing summer tyres – Continental Premium Contact 205/55/16s on standard 16-inch rims, which seem to ride a touch more firmly, but are a bit quieter than the previous Dunlop winter tyres, which I would happily have run on all year were it not for the likely higher wear rate as the weather became warmer.
Sad that they were not really tested by any tough winter weather, though. It’s evident that the rolling resistance of the Continentals, even though they are not “economy” tyres, is rather better than that of the Dunlops, and the car rolls eagerly towards roundabouts when you lift off the gas as if it would coast for half a mile or more, which may explain some of the recent fuel economy improvements. These standard wheels are also a lot easier to wash too!
A busy month has seen the mileage climb to over 4,000 miles, and the engine seemingly continues to loosen up. Two fast long journeys of over 200 miles involving a decent proportion of motorway miles returned fuel economy of well over 60mpg, with average speeds of 50 to 55mph, which is most impressive, and has resulted in the overall running average rising up to 57mpg.
Some may fault the A3’s driving involvement and relatively lifeless steering, and if you favour a steering wheel that writhes in your hands and tends to tram-line on linear road imperfections, then maybe in SE trim and on relatively modest tyres, it’s not the car for all. I find the stability and confidence that’s delivered at higher speeds preferable to the more nervous response to road imperfections and greater tyre noise that would come with larger wheels and lower profile tyres and Sport or S line suspension. These variants, both of which I’ve driven, do, however, also ride fairly comfortably, if somewhat more firmly, and certainly more comfortably than on the previous model A3 Sport and S line editions, although both of these are now available with the option of softer SE-like suspension.
The convenience of the optional Audi Hill Hold Assist and standard semi-automatic electro-mechanical parking brake both continue to impress, and they both work near enough perfectly, although it strangely requires significantly more throttle to release the parking brake in reverse than in first gear. Sometimes the (rather noisy) electric cooling fan still runs on for three to four minutes after an engine shut-down, but I’ve come to accept this as normal, even if my wife often suggests that I have walked away from the car and left the engine running! But then she also tells me that I’ve left the headlights on when they are actually offering the delayed shut-down feature that sees you to your front door before they switch off. At least the (optional) electric folding door mirrors do confirm that I’ve locked the car, although it would perhaps be more convenient if they unfolded with door unlocking, rather than with engine start-up, as it’s quite possible to leave the car unlocked with the mirrors folded if you then re-visit the car for some reason.
In conclusion, I must say that the longer trips confirmed the comfort of the standard seats, although strangely I’ve not yet managed to find what I am convinced is the ideal steering wheel position, in terms of reach, rather than rake, and I still play with the setting from time to time to fine tune it.
Panel gaps and joint sealing, shown here on the rear hatch, are immaculate.
But surely an Audi should have a more elegant tailgate stop buffer?
|Date arrived:||4th November 2013|
|Mileage to date:||4,180 miles|
|Fuel consumption:||74.3mpg (official combined)
57.1mpg (on test)