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Audi A3 1.9 TDIe Sportback 2008 review

EXPERT RATING
7

So determined are Audi to inform us that they are improving the efficiency of their new vehicles, they have started adding a reminder to their model names.

They tell us that an ‘e’ version – a super efficient variant distinguishable by the letter ‘e’ tacked onto the end of the model badge - will be available in all core model lines by the end of 2008.

There are a number of engine and transmission choices for the A3 Sportback range – we tested the 1.9 TDIe.

Drivetrain

The TDIe is powered by an in-line four-cylinder, OHC diesel engine with a VTG turbocharger. It produces 77kW and 250Nm of torque, with a five-speed manual transmission – with synchromesh on all gears - getting power to the wheels. This set-up will reach a top speed of 194km/h and if pushed will hit the 100km/h mark in 11.7 seconds.

Exhaust emission is managed by a maintenance-free particulate filter and controlled exhaust-gas recirculation. Put simply, the TDIe releases a paltry 119g/kg of CO2 and only uses 4.5 litres of diesel every 100km.

Electro-mechanical speed-sensitive steering combined with the A3’s dynamic chassis makes for a well-balanced ride that allows for a punchy sportiness without sacrificing comfort.

Exterior

With a high shoulder line, striking front and distinctive rear, the five-door A3 Sportback aims to combine the sportiness of a classic coupe with the practicality of a roomy hatchback. On the outside the major difference between the 1.9 TDIe and the rest of the range is its 16-inch steel wheels with full wheel covers, rather than the 17-inch alloys on the other models. Low roll-resistant – and therefore fuel efficient – 205/55 R16 rubber also contributes to the green direction Audi are steering towards with the ‘e’ version.

Interior

On the inside, the A3 Sportback is what we have come to expect from Audi – simple, intuitive controls with comfortable, attractive seats and trim – put together with quality materials and workmanship that reflects the attention to detail the big German marque is famous for.

Equipment

Remote central locking, security engine immobiliser and electric, body-coloured exterior mirrors, automatic air conditioning with dual climate control, power windows, a Driver Information System (DIS) and leather steering wheel are standard, with numerous options including sun roof, xenon headlights and a rear parking system also available.

Split fold rear seats and an mp3-compatible concert sound system – also standard – ensure that longer trips and cargo placement are fairly pain free.

However, cruise control and automatic headlights were a surprising omission from the standard list for what is positioned as a premium vehicle.

Safety

A substantial airbag package plus ESP – which incorporates ABS with brake-assist, Electronic Differential Lock and Anti Slip Regulation – heads up the impressive line of standard safety features in the A3 range.

You also get head restraints and three point seatbelts for all five seats, the Audi backguard that holds your upper body in place in the event of rear-end collision, and a safety steering column with tilt and telescopic adjustment.

Pricing

The Audi A3 Sportback range starts at $37,200 and tops out at $65,800 for the 3.2 Quattro with a sports pack. The TDI e starts at $38,900.

Driving

Without the benefit of the more advanced technology found in other Audi diesel engines, such as direct injection, even with the turbocharger the little oilburner struggles a lot of the time.

It sounds a bit agricultural, especially at idle and at the start of trips, although it doesn’t intrude badly into the cabin. And most of the time you don’t feel any benefit from the turbo.

There was quite a bit of wind rush around the pillars when you manage to reach higher speeds, and it’s joined by a considerable choir from the fuel-efficient rubber.

And while it was set and forget on the highway, around town the five-speed manual transmission became tedious – as did the nanny alert on the info display that suggests you change up a gear (for better economy).

But economy is certainly not a problem with the 1.9 TDIe’s. It gave an overall consumption of 5.2L/100km after a week of driving, with highway running dropping as low as 4L/100km. Cost-wise, this is good enough to pit against some of the hybrid technology out there.

 

The Audi A3 1.9 TDie sportback was awarded Carguide Best Green car for 2008

 

Pricing Guides

$12,430
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$6,380
Highest Price
$18,480

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
1.8 TFSI Attraction 1.8L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $10,560 – 14,410 2008 Audi A3 2008 1.8 TFSI Attraction Pricing and Specs
2.0 TFSI Ambition 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $14,080 – 18,480 2008 Audi A3 2008 2.0 TFSI Ambition Pricing and Specs
1.6 Attraction 1.6L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $6,380 – 9,020 2008 Audi A3 2008 1.6 Attraction Pricing and Specs
1.8 TFSI Ambition 1.8L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $8,250 – 11,660 2008 Audi A3 2008 1.8 TFSI Ambition Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7