Sexy Audi A3 35 TFSi Sportback is Actually a Versatile All Rounder.

If the ’22 Audi S3 Sportback seemed conventional, then its kid brother A3 35 TFSI Sportback looks a little pumped up for the common garden base mode it is. In fact, at a cursory glance you’d be forgiven for thinking it really is a S3. Yes, it really looks the part. Those same edgy flanks even have what the Sport lot call quattro blisters. So it appears fit. And this one’s S line get-up with sportier bumpers, sports suspension, S style spoiler and more, plus shiny 18-inch alloys, add to the effect.

Macho Looks May Create Expectations

It’s edgy, if conventional headlights bear classy daylight running strips, a bold grille design, larger quad exhaust tips, while they tell us that aerodynamics are improved over the car it replaces. A3 Sportback is now 3cm longer at 4.34 metres and 1.82 m wide, but it rides on the same 2.6 m wheelbase. The boot holds between 380 and 1,200 litres and ours had a power tailgate too.

So, while the S3 seemed a bit reserved, this one’s macho, good looking and aggressive. For what it is, that is. Unlike its wolf in sheep’s clothing big brother however, this one’s the other way around. Not that there’s anything wrong with 8.7 seconds to 100, that is. It’s good enough to do the job. There’s a sufficient 110 kW and 250 Nm on tap out of the 1400 cc turbo petrol lump. It feels bigger than that, truth be told.

This one swaps cogs via an 8-speed Tiptronic autobox and feeds torque to the front wheels. It employs a four-link rear axle with drive select dynamic handling. Efficient and easy cruising, ride quality is refined and A3 is comfy, too. Yet it handles and holds the road well and provides good enough quality driver feedback. Some of our more adventurous drivers found the steering, accelerator, and brakes a touch too sensitive. Still, most everything this Audi A3 does, is on the right side of average.

Find A3’s Biggest Plusses Inside

A3’s biggest advantages however come inside. Finely crafted around the driver in an impressive specification, it’s a classy space. It boasts that typical high Audi build quality and packs in a fair bit of gadgetry. That cool new gear switch, edgy inlays, striking wedge-like door handles, and a black-finish instrument panel come together well.

Crisp, easy to use, and responsive, Audi’s Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto packed 10.1” third-generation MMI touch screen infotainment with fully integrated connectivity and Car-to-X swarm intelligence, is a treat to use. We noticed that the touchscreen seemed warped around the edges. And not that it eliminates our distaste of touchscreen systems, we did enjoy the haptic touch. We really don’t like that daft touch dial volume adjustment though. Why not just make it a physical dial?

Operated via the multifunction steering wheel, gesture or natural speech control, our Sportback had 180W 10-speaker digital radio sound, latest MIB 3 Function on Demand tech, Traffic Sign Recognition and Enhanced Navigation too. Audi’s triple Dynamic, Sport, and Classic themed 12.3” virtual cockpit is another highlight. Ours also came with full ten airbag Audi pre sense safety including front, parking assist, and lane departure warnings. Lane change, exit and cross traffic systems are optional.

Don’t Worry, You Can Spec Yours Up!

Don’t be too concerned if this one isn’t precisely what you need. Audi’s package concept allows you to upgrade to several spec levels from LED lighting and auto climate control to Audi virtual cockpit plus, Sports exterior and S line interior packages, and more.

Some may say it’s a touch tight, considering its entry roots. Others feel it looks perhaps a tad too adventurous for what could be considered feeble outputs. Versus its doubly powerful AWD S sibling, of course. Which is also almost doubly quick too.

But our gripes basically make mountains out of molehills and most of us truly appreciated this car’s macho side. Because at the end of the day, this superb looking, quite versatile, easy to drive and reasonably affordable Audi hatchback really is a great all-rounder. — Michele Lupini

Images & test data: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Audi A3 Sportback 35TFSI S line
Engine: 110 Kw 250 Nm 1.4-litre turbo petrol I4
Drive: 8-speed automatic FWD
0-60 km/h:        4.13 sec
0-100 km/h:       8.78 sec
0-120 km/h:       12.00 sec
400m:             16.3 sec @ 142 km/h
80-120 km/h:      5.68 sec
VMax:             219 km/h
Fuel Average:     6.2 l/100 km
CO2:              140 g/km
Warranty/Service: 1y unl./ 5y 500K km
LIST PRICE:       R615K
RATED:            8
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