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Journeys : April May 2009
He says Darren Moody Driver training for all .drivers. O nce considered a bit-player in the German automotive industry, the last few years have seen Audi come of age with an inspiring and attractive model range, from the ballistic R8 supercar right down to the entry level A3. It seems Audi likes to give you as much choice as possible – the A3 has six engine variants including petrol and diesel. The recently-updated model on test had the small capacity 1.4l direct injection turbo (or TFSI in Audi-speak). The claimed fuel consumption rating is 5.8l/100km, but I didn’t really get too close to that, achieving 6.9l/100. I did have a significant proportion of city driving and the little turbo engine just loves some right-foot attention. The 1.9l TDIe variant claims hybrid economy at 4.5l/100km. But the small engine capacity doesn’t impede performance. 92kW and 200Nm of torque from 1500 RPM, coupled with the seven speed S-tronic (twin-clutch) transmission, would outrun almost anything in its class and some above it. Drive is through the front wheels, with the top-of-the-range model getting Audi’s renowned Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Inside, the leather-clad seats are hugging and comfortable with the rear-seat passengers equally-accommodated. The steering column has height and reach adjustment to accommodate drivers of all sizes. As you would expect, backseat passengers can be a bit squeezed when the driver is above average height, but in general it has good space and comfort within its class. The electro-mechanical steering has a nice feel with good weighting for the suburbs and open road. Matched to the great drive-train and a more-than- competent chassis, there’s something there for the driving enthusiast as well as the ‘shopping and school kids’ Mum. Typical of vehicles from Europe, the base spec misses out on all those little luxuries that might come standard on imported vehicles from other regions. The 1.4 TFSI Sportback hits the market just under $40,000, but tick the options box for the Comfort Package, which includes leather seats, Bluetooth phone connectivity and Park Assist; add cruise control and metallic paint and the sticker price is closer to $45k. What you do get for your money is world- class build quality. Unlike some of the other Euro cousins, the A3 is manufactured in Germany and it shows, with the fit and finish of the interior and exterior first- class. There’s no compromise on safety, with standard fitment of front, side and curtain airbags, ABS, ESP BA and the list goes on. If you are considering Euro, then the A3 should be on your test-drive list. I must also mention Park Assist’. Are you one of those people who have five goes at reverse parking? Well, you never need to fear parallel parking in the middle of a busy road again. Press the Park Assist button when travelling at low speed and the sensors will scan the size of available parking spaces as you move slowly past them. When it finds one large enough to use, the dashboard will display a space and direct you to move forward until the car is in the right position. It will then ask you to select reverse. Then all you do is let go of the wheel and let the smarts do the rest. Perfect parallel parking does come at a price though – tick that box and add another $1750. Modern vehicles Expert instructors Individual driving lessons for learners and driver assessment Safety Drive Package includes ROADSIDE ADVANTAGE cover and discounts on vehicle inspections, car insurance and RACT Batteries. Defensive Driver Training with both private and business courses. Hobart 6232 6399 Launceston 6335 5644 Devonport 6421 1944 Burnie 6434 2944 www.ract.com.au April / May 09 27 L P 6253
June July 2009
June July 2008