All change for Audi

A3

Audi A3, 2016, front
Audi A3, 2016, side
Audi A3, 2016, rear
Audi A3, 2016, interior
Audi A3, 2016, display screen
Audi A3, 2016, rear seats
Audi A3, 2016, instruments
Audi A3, 2016, virtual instruments
Audi A3, 2016, boot

AUDI'S best selling A3 has just been given a major revamp - with sharper styling, new engines and new technology.

But although the model is available in four guises - three-door hatchback, five-door Sportback, saloon and cabriolet - traditionally it's the ubiquitous three-door that seems to dominate our roads because of its entry level price tag.

The introduction of a new 1.0-litre, three-cylinder 115bhp petrol engine in this model means the new third generation A3 will be available from £19,365 as Audi follows the trend towards smaller but more powerful engines with lower insurance premiums and no road tax.

Along with its siblings the latest three-door now gets a new "face" with a more aggressive, wider grille as well as flatter headlights with distinctive jagged bottom edges so you will know when one is behind you, even after dark.

In fact the lights are now more piercing as the old halogen lamps have been replaced with xenon with LED daytime running lights as standard.

At the rear of the car there are new look bumpers and a wider diffuser while new alloy wheel designs and new exterior colours have created a fresh new image.

The car comes with a choice of six-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed S tronic automatic box in both the 1,0-litre, 1.4-litre and 2.0-litre TFSI petrol models as well as the S3 quattro and 1.6-litre TDI diesel.

For the 2.0-litre TDI 150 bhp quattro model and range-topping 184 bhp quattro - at £30,915 in S line trim - it's a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed S tronic.

There are no dramatic changes to the interior of the car but you can now order it with the same virtual cockpit first seen in the Audi TT - which allows the speedometer and rev counter to reduce in size to allow a sat nav screen to appear between them - and charge your smart phone simply by placing it in the armrest.

The latest advances in technology means the car is now available with a variety of assistance systems including one which takes over the driving in slow moving traffic jams.

Traffic jam assist means that radar sensors and a front camera process the vital information around the car allowing the system to brake, accelerate and even steer in an ever increasing move towards autonomous driving.

You can also order your car with park assist - which allows the car to park itself - and the useful cross traffic assist which warns you of cars approaching from either direction as you reverse out of a parking spot.

And while the new model brings with it new engines Audi has retained some tried and tested ones from the outgoing range, including the 1.6-litre TDI Sport with its promise of more than 74 miles per gallon.

And just a few minutes behind the wheel showed why this is still a best seller with its 110bhp engine delivering gutsy performance and plenty of torque from a car priced at £22,480.

During my drive I couldn't match Audi's official fuel consumption figure of 72.4mpg but did record a respectable 56mpg from a model with a 0-62mph time of 10.5 seconds and top speed of 124mph.

For anyone preferring petrol and looking for even sharper performance the 1.4-litre TFSI engine has also been carried over and boasts a 0-62mph time of 8.1 seconds on its way to a top speed of 136mph.

Despite its lively performance - and it really does feel crisp when you push it - this model will achieve around 50mpg thanks in part to its cylinder on demand technology which turns off two of the engine's four cylinders when it's not under pressure.

The first A3 took to the road in 1996 rapidly becoming one of Audi's most successful cars and certainly its best seller in a short space of time.

The latest revamp marks the German luxury car maker's determination to ensure that sales continue to stay buoyant.

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