There will be a statistic somewhere that tells us how many new car purchase decisions are taken by women, whether those women will be the main driver or not.
My guess is that lots of men’s company cars are chosen by the women in their lives – or if not chosen, then strongly influenced.
Plenty of men can’t be trusted to choose the best car for all a family’s needs. We choose cars that are badly proportioned with big engines and insufficient room. We choose sound systems over parking sensors and alloy wheels over diesel economy.
Good job, then, that some of us have our girls to keep us straight. In my case, my wife takes charge. The last time I bought a car I chose one that was 32 years old with a 4.2-litre petrol engine. Thankfully, my wife tends to be a bit more practical.
And because we are in the market for another family car, she takes a keen interest in my test cars. The Volvo S80 was too big for her – she’s only 5ft 2in and likes cars built to the same scale, while the Vauxhall Vectra VXR estate suffered the same problem and it wasn’t her colour (bright metallic blue).
So when I came home in the Audi A3 Sportback for the first time, she actually came out of the house to have a look. This was a good sign. I encouraged her to get in and check out the view from the driver’s seat.
She wasn’t troubled by the roofline, which is slightly lower than the Golf/Leon/Octavias that share the A3’s underpinnings. The seat height cranks up with a side-mounted lever and as soon as she got it all adjusted, my wife looked at home. And quite pleased.
The Audi image is top drawer and the S line trim emphasises the faultless build quality. My enthusing about the beautiful feel and action of the TT-style circular air vents was lost on a spouse checking out the rear seats where we’ll stow the children. This car has a dual sunroof, so the cabin is light and airy in the back as well as the front.
Both sections have neat mesh sunscreens that are easily drawn across the glass to cut glare and the hothouse effect.
So the Audi A3 gets the other half’s seal of approval and she hasn’t turned the key yet. When she does, she’ll notice a rather metallic rattle from the all-alloy 2.0-litre TDI engine, which is quite different from the 1.9-litre unit with its iron block. She’ll probably get more than the 41mpg that I’ve been averaging, too.
For driving impressions and regular running reports, check out the Editor’s Blog.
Price: £24,045 (£29,005 as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 153
Company car tax bill (2007) 40% tax-payer: £159 per month
Insurance group: 11E
Combined mpg: 49.5
Test mpg: 41.5
CAP Monitor RV: £9,550/40%
Contract hire rate £468
Expenditure to date: Nil
Figures based on three years/60,000 miles