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Audi A3 review - better than a BMW 1-series? - Engine and Gearbox

Audi’s posh Golf is a massive sales hit and it’s not difficult to see why, though rivals drive better

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from £20,365
  • Beautifully designed, impeccably built and competitively priced premium hatch
  • All just a bit too grown up and sensible, needs a more playful side

While Audi would love to have you believe that both petrol and turbodiesel engines in the A3 range have a connection with its illustrious LMP1 history, neither are going to come even close to keeping up with an R18 down the Mulsanne straight.

The selection of TFSI turbocharged petrol engines are relatively smooth, but it's worth noting that the smallest 1.0-litre unit, featuring just three cylinders, only puts out 113bhp. While not over-endowed with power it's still a willing unit and boasts more urgency than its entry-level status would have you imagine.

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There are only two quattros in the line up - ignoring the S and RS models - four-wheel drive limited to the highest output 187bhp 2.0 TFSI and 181bhp 2.0-litre TDI.

Those quattros are also exclusively fitted with a six-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission, the same gearbox being used on the front-wheel drive 2.0 TDI with 147bhp. The rest of the line-up comes as standard with a six-speed manual, or an optional seven-speed S tronic automatic.

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Both the six- and seven-speed autos are smooth enough in most situations, but they are prone to the odd clunky shift, particularly at lower speeds. They work best being driven via the too small paddles on the steering wheel. The six-speed manual will feel familiar to anyone who’s ever driven an Audi before, the shift springy and light across its gate and not particularly accurate if it’s hurried, either. 

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