Parkers overall rating: 3.9 out of 5 3.9

Murray Scullion on living with Audi's latest premium family hatchback

Update 1: Welcome

Audi A3 Murray Scullion

Welcome to the long-term report of the Audi A3. If you've made it this far into the review, you must be really keen as mustard.

A long-term report follows the lives and times of a car, usually for around six months. We tend to set out some questions that we're planning to answer - and this one is no different.

The main thing we really want to get down to the bottom of is whether it's worth the premium. If you're this far into your car research, you may know this, but...the Audi A3 is mechanically identical to the Volkswagen Golf, SEAT Leon, and Skoda Octavia.

Each car is supposed to have its own little niche. The Golf is the de facto choice, the SEAT is a bit cheaper, while the Skoda is more practical. The Audi is supposed to be more premium.

Well, at around £4,000, or £100 more a month than a similarly equipped Golf, is it worth the extra money?

We'll also be answering other important questions regarding its practicality and stuff-carrying abilities, plus, pitching it head to head with some rivals. Like the sound of that? Cracking.

What about the spec?

It's an Edition 1 model. It's one of those limited edition specs that's only available for a short period of time after the car is released. It sits below top-of-the-range Vorsprung - and initial impressions are very positive.

This new A3 looks an awful lot like the old car, but it's tauter and far more modern looking. The side profile is especially interesting - the creases along the flanks and slightly flared arches are just the right side-of bad-ass for a family grocery-getter. Same for the wheels - these Edition 1 models come with 19-inch alloys that really fill those arches.

The metallic Tango Red is a £575 option and seems like a worthwhile addition in my eyes. In a sea of whites and silvers on the motorway it feels good to have something so bright on the road. The metallic really pops in the right sunlight too. Must try and take some pictures to reflect this.

Audi A3 Edition 1 interior

Engine?

It has Audi's 35 TFSI petrol engine. In old money it's a turbocharged 1.5-litre, making 150hp and 250Nm of torque. At this stage the car has 60 miles on it, so i'm still wearing it in.

Initially it seems up to the task, but I'll report more later once I've used it a bit more. Another question time here - is 150hp enough to pull around a 1400kg car?

The 0-62mph time of 8.4seconds is more than reasonable, as is its official MPG rating of 50.4mpg.

This engine is pretty clever too. It can turn off two out of four cylinders to conserve fuel. Plus, it's a mild hybrid. This means it can harvest energy wasted when braking or coasting and pump it back into a belt-driven battery. It can't run on pure electricity, but it can deploy bits of electricity to aid acceleration or MPG. Once again, I'll report back once I've driven some miles in it.

It should be noted that it's a six-speed manual. As a classic car enthusiast and lover of mechanical stuff, this makes me very happy. Especially at a time when automatics are catching up with manual sales in the UK.

Highlights of our car:

Right then, we've established the spec of the car is spot on. Here are some highlights from Edition 1 spec:

>> 19-inch '5-arm trapezoid' alloy wheels

>> Audi Matrix LED headlights

>> Apple CarPlay/Android Auto

>> Audi virtual cockpit

As mentioned, we also opted for the Tango Red paint. Plus the advanced key (£425) that gives the car keyless entry and comfort and sound pack (£865) which includes parking assist, reversing camera, heated front seats, and a Bang & Olufsen sound system.

2020 Audi A3 Edition 1 rear

Update 2: Performance and handling

Now that we're a month into living with the A3 it's a good time to write about the engine. It's loosened up nicely and is performing well. The 8.4 second 0-62mph time seems achievable, but it's that big slug of torque (250Nm) that is the most impressive.

It kicks in from as low as 1600rpm and it means getting up to speed is effortless. It's not fast per se, but it's easily enough to make progress - even for such a heavy car.

One thing we should bring up - the MPG. So far, we're not getting the claimed 47.9mpg. We're averaging around 30-40mpg. Even on an eco trip with the dynamic drive set to efficiency, we only averaged just a smidge over 40mpg. And that's including a 34-mile section of 50mph driving thanks to the M4.

Maybe once the engine's worn in more we'll see the numbers increase.

No complaints about the car's clever two-cylinder mode. It's virtually undetectable and it doesn't make a fuss over it. It just seamlessly happens. The only way you'd know is that it will show you when it's turned off two cylinders via the economy menu on the virtual cockpit.

Audi A3 Edition 1 side

What's it like?

That brings us nicely onto Audi's drive select modes. There are five modes to choose from; comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency, and individual. Each mode varies the level of throttle response and steering assist.

For instance, in dynamic the throttle response is sharp - meaning you don't need to press the throttle pedal all that hard to achieve maximum throttle. While the steering feels precise and heavier than in other modes.

Whereas in efficiency, the throttle response is dull. You need to press the throttle right down to use it all. The steering in this mode feels light.

The driving modes do make a palpable difference. As someone who drives a lot of motorway miles I generally just use efficiency.

Broadly this A3 drives really well. It's superbly comfortable and really well damped (even on those massive 19-inch alloy wheels) meaning it doesn't pitch and sway on badly potholed or uneven roads, it manages to be smooth and level in most situations.

Complaints? Low speed ride is a bit fidgety. Road noise at motorway speeds is pretty unpleasant and loud (I suspect those 19-inch rims don't help). The wireless Apple CarPlay has a habit of restarting itself one or two times on every journey.

What about the handling?

Previous Audi A3s have been a bit meh on the handling front but this one really isn't. It's waaaay more direct than i'd imagined.

Audi A3 Edition 1 steering wheel

This is brilliant news for two reasons. On the boring side of things the A3's steering is very precise. Tight streets are easily negotiated, as are tricky mini-roundabouts.

On the slightly more exciting end of the scale, it's a fun car to drive. There's a real flow to the suspension on fast and winding roads, helped by this precise steering. Turn in is immediate and gives you great confidence on where to place the car. Feedback from the wheels comes through thanks to the squareish S Line steering wheel - and hell - in dynamic driving mode the steering manages to feel even more direct and even more communicative, rather than simply heavier.

A3s with 150hp or more (like mine) have a more advanced multi-link rear suspension than in less powerful models. This adds to the already polished feeling A3.

In fact, I am beginning to like the A3 so much that it leads me to ask the question - do you really need an A4?