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I’ve arrived early for a meeting so I’m sitting in the car park.
Looking around the interior of the A3, I’m thinking about all the things I like and don’t like about it.
I really like the S line trim. It manages to be a little bit flash and coolly understated at the same time and there’s no wonder it’s such a sought-after specification, both new and used.
People are prepared to pay extra and wait longer for that small red insignia and its associated leather, brushed metal and soft plastic surface finishes.
The snug fitting front seats are very comfortable. My father-in-law doesn’t appreciate the dense padding. He prefers to sink into the generous seats of his Rover and makes no connection between this and the backache he feels after driving down from Fife.
Particularly useful are the easy-to-access seat adjusting levers. My wife is so small and I’m so fat, I can’t actually fit into the driver’s seat after she has driven it.
She’d never dream of moving it back as she gets out, but the height and forward/back adjustments use big, fast action levers so I can quickly forgive her elfin selfishness.
There’s something nice about all the levers. I’ve hopped in and out of Volkswagens, SEATS and Skodas and despite the similarity of several components, none of them quite match the Audi.
I like the paddle-shift on the steering wheel. This gearbox is thrilling and on twisty roads I often use the steering wheel-mounted gearchange.
Managing editor Steve Moody describes it as “a bit computer gamey” and he’s right, but he too chose Gran Turismo 4 mode for a high speed cross-country run in the A3.
All this spirited driving resulted in extra oil being consumed and two litres were needed to top up.
The satellite navigation system is the best I’ve ever used. Address input is via a rotating knob moving a cursor round a circle of letters and numbers. It’s quick and clear.
Choosing the option to display “estimated arrival time” releases childish and potentially dangerous behaviour in me. That little devil in my head says: “Bet you can knock another five minutes off that.” And that’s when I have to take myself in hand.
I can’t fathom how to cancel route guidance though. Like so many destinations, the office I’m parked outside isn’t the exact destination set in the system. I can set a new route but I can’t get rid of this one. I spend so long fiddling, I lose track of time. And now I’m late for my meeting.
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: 41.1
CAP Monitor RV: £9,450/40%
Contract hire rate: £468
Expenditure to date: £100 (misfuel) £4.99 (oil)
Figures based on three years/60,000 miles