Audi A3
Audi A3

Audi A3 Sportback: Check the fine print

Riley Riley

2022 Audi A3 Sportback 35 TFSI 6

What is it?

We got off to a bad start with the Audi A3 after a warning light showed the battery in the electronic key needed replacing.

As our test vehicle was supplied with just the one key, it was a job that we couldn’t afford to put off.

You’d think the manual, one of several items of paperwork in the glovebox, would specify exactly what kind of battery was required . . . but alas, no.

Either way it meant prising open the key, being careful not to damage the casing, which was not an easy feat, and when we finally managed to pop the cover, it fell between the centre console and driver’s seat.

To give this some context, it all happened right as it started to rain, in a shopping centre carpark, five minutes after we had headed off for a weekend away. Ouch!

2022 Audi A3 Sportback 35 TFSI 7

What’s it cost?

Keeping track of the diverse Audi range requires a computer, spreadsheet and strong work ethic.

Biggest selling models are now the SUVs — the Q3, Q5, Q7 and Q2 — in that order (at least that’s how it panned out in 2021).

Hatchbacks or ‘sportbacks’ as Audi refers to them have become a bit passe, when not so long ago a hatch was considered a very practical option, sporty even if you popped for a hot one.

Confusing the issue, Audi also offers Sportback versions of its SUVs, which generally means a sloping, less convenient rear roofline.

The cheapest Audi as we speak is the A1 Sportback priced from $33,800 plus on-roads.

Entry point for the once entry A3 line, is $46,900. That gets you the A3 35 TFSI Sportback (subject of our test), replacing the previous 1.0-litre three cylinder A3 30.

The sedan is 15cm longer and costs $2500 more.

Our test vehicle looked very German, finished in Manhattan grey with a black interior.

It was fitted with a number of options, including the optional $370 dark aluminium inlays, $650 power tailgate, metallic paint $1250 and the $2600 Comfort Package.

The latter adds an auto-dimming rear view mirror, power folding exterior mirrors, heated power-adjust front seats with electric lumbar adjustment, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, traffic jam assist and emergency assist.

Subtract $260 for Audi phone box light (aka Qi wireless phone charging) which is not available due to the global shortage, bringing the total price of the car as tested to $51,510 plus on-roads.

Also missing because of supply problems is cross traffic assist rear, lane change warning with exit warning and park assist which helps to steer the vehicle into a parallel or perpendicular parking space.

For an Audi (we haven’t driven one for quite a while) the A3 looks the part but definitely feels downmarket, with a plastic-looking grille, generic door trim and the use of some cheap plastic surfaces inside.

But the Audi DNA is certainly there, with sporty ride and handling, and the bonus of exceptional fuel economy.

For something fancier, you need to shell out considerably more for the S line, S3 or RS3 grade.

Standard kit includes 18-inch alloys, leather appointed trim and dual zone climate air, three-spoke leather steering wheel with multifunction plus and shift paddles, LED headlights, auto lights and wipers and heated exterior mirrors.

Infotainment is built around six-speaker audio and a big, bright, responsive 10.1-inch touchscreen that is inset in the dash, rather than freestanding as it was before (and is the norm).

The system includes voice control, built-in navigation, DAB+ digital radio, wired Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity and two USB outlets and a 12v outlet in the front console for charging and connectivity.

You also get Audi connect plus functionality, with online traffic, weather conditions, fuel prices, parking information and Google satellite map overlay, together with additional features available through the myAudi app — like remote lock/unlock, service request and emergency call thanks to an embedded SIM.

Five-star safety comprises seven airbags including a centre bag, Audi pre-sense city with auto emergency braking (including pedestrian and cyclist detection), side assist, lane assist, cruise control with speed limiter, park assist with rear view camera and tyre pressure indicator.

A3 is covered by a 5-year warranty with service due every 15,000km or 12 months, with a five-year prepaid service plan available priced at $2250.

2022 Audi A3 Sportback 35 TFSI 5

What’s it go like?

Introduced earlier this year, the current A3 35 TFSI features a new 1.5-litre four cylinder engine with Cylinder On Demand (COD) and a mild-hybrid system (MHEV) under its bonnet.

The 1.5-litre powertrain offers the same 110kW and 250Nm of torque as its 1.4-litre predecessor, but despite the 100cc increase in displacement,  provides better fuel economy than before.

A belt alternator starter (BAS) is installed on the engine, feeding a 48-volt electrical system that integrates a compact lithium-ion battery located under the driver’s seat.

It provides a 0.4L/100km improvement, bringing fuel consumption for the Sportback down to a claimed 5.0 L/100km (4.9 L/100km for the sedan).

CO2 emissions for the Sportback are 114g/km.

Drive is to the front wheels via a 7-speed S-tronic dual clutch transmission, with auto start-stop, paddle shifters for keen drivers and a sportier S mode if you’re feeling lazy.

The actual transmission lever has been replaced by a toggle which you pinch between your thumb and forefinger to change between forward and reverse, with two pulls back for S mode.

It’s a better, easier to use solution than the rotary dial offered by some and frees up space on the console.

No so the circular, touch-activated, console-mounted volume control. A standard knob would have sufficed.

It’s fairly well behaved for a twin clutch transmission, but doesn’t like chop and change — or plonking it off the line.

The dash from 0-100km/h takes 8.4 seconds and it has a top speed of 224km/h.

Runflats have been replaced by a tyre repair kit.

The 18-inch wheels are shold with Pirelli P7 Cinturato rubber which deliver great roll-on, with hardly any input from the throttle required most of the time.

In fact, the car appears to use hardly any fuel because of the largish 50-litre tank and low rate of consumption, helped along by cylinder deactivation and a free-wheeling transmission.

The tradeoff is tyre noise, particularly at motorway speeds.

The sedan (we were supposed to get the sedan) is just over 15cm longer but all other dimensions are identical.

Ride and handling are sporty, firm and precise, with good communication about what’s going on underneath the car through the steering wheel.

The basics are spot on.

But the layout of the dash and instruments is overly complex and confusing.

It can leave the driver not knowing which way to turn or which button to press, with dull lettering making the job of deciphering functions harder than it should be, especially when the car is in motion.

Each time you stop the car, you have to remember to push the separate park button, push the off switch and from time to time apply the handbrake (sometimes it engages automatically, sometimes it doesn’t).

Forget the handbrake and it has a tendency to lurch forward.

You can reduce the busyness of the instrument cluster with two basic configurations available and the ability to dictate what appears between the dials.

Navigation can be displayed right between the dials, a nice blingy, hi-tech touch once reserved for high end models.

But here’s a tip, turn off Google Earth and use the basic graphics or the screen will become so busy and difficult to follow it’s apt to  drive you nuts.

And while the map can be displayed between the two dials, the current speed limit doesn’t come over from the touchscreen.

nyDlBEGz 2022 Audi A3 Sportback 35 TFSI 3

What we like?

  • Sporty
  • Communicative chassis
  • Doesn’t use much fuel
  • Rear air outlets
  • Nice touchscreen

2022 Audi A3 Sportback 35 TFSI 1 2022 Audi A3 Sportback 35 TFSI 9 1

What we don’t like?

  • Hard to get in and out
  • Disorganised dash
  • No wireless charging
  • Adaptive cruise not standard
  • Head-up display not standard
  • Limited rear legroom
  • Small boot

2022 Audi A3 Sportback 35 TFSI 4

The bottom line?

The entry A3 is a mixed bag.

The dynamics are sporty, but many features that should be standard are options such as an auto dimming rear view mirror and adaptive cruise control.

Even at $50K by the time you put the A3 on the road, you could find yourself paying more than you bargained for.

And, like many manufacturers, Audi has been affected by the global supply shortage, so some inclusions have become exclusions — so be sure to check the fine print.

2022 Audi A3 Sportback 35 TFSI 2


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Audi A3 35 TFSI Sportback, priced from $46,900
  • Looks - 7/10
  • Performance - 7.5/10
  • Safety - 7.5/10
  • Thirst - 8/10
  • Practicality - 7/10
  • Comfort - 7/10
  • Tech - 7.5/10
  • Value - 7/10

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