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A pair of aces from Audi’s top quality stable 

page 22 motoring Audi A3

AUDI models continue to get better and better and that says volumes for the manufacturer’s design team and engineers.
I thought the previous A6 allroad and A3 models I last drove were pretty much top notch but the need for continuous improvement and achieving even higher quality levels are tasks Audi relishes and always manages to achieve.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that I attended the launch of the second-generation A6 allroad (the original was named allroad quattro) as I have vivid memories of its excellent off-road and on-road performance driving in Windsor.
Surprisingly, that was back in 2006 so it’s maybe not so much a surprise that the starting price has gone up from £33,530 to £43,150.
I’ve tested the car since then and recently got behind the wheel of one of the new models that was launched in July.
Powered by four powerful V6 engines, one petrol and three diesel, they all come with a start-stop system that helps improve fuel economy by as much as 20 per cent from the previous model.
The test car was a 3.0 TDI 245PS which, with its seven-speed S-tronic twin-clutch semi-automatic gearbox, didn’t disappoint when looking for acceleration speed or when cruising every so quietly and smoothly at motorway speeds.
It’s sprint time off the mark to 62mph is 6.6 seconds and it has a top speed of 147mph yet can achieve fuel consumption figures of 38.2mpg urban, 50.4mpg extra urban and 44.8mpg combined.
I didn’t get a chance to go off road on this occasion but did enjoy the sure-footedness performance on some winding, country roads.
The gleaming Phantom Black-coloured allroad’s appearance is more rugged than the A6 Avant with its extended side sills, flared wings and protective front and rear stainless steel underbody guards.
The spacious interior oozes quality with its Milano leather upholstery and comfort for driver and passengers is excellent.
I enjoyed my time with this big Audi and next up was a much smaller model, the three-door compact hatchback A3.
The car hasn’t altered much in appearance to the model it replaces but it is an all-new A3 with its ultra-lightweight construction making it 80kg lighter that its predecessor.
There’s a choice of three engines, 1.4-litre 129bhp and 1.8-litre 178bhp TFSi petrol, and 2-litre TDI 148bhp diesel.
Prices range from £19,205 to £26,560 with three specification options – SE, Sport and S line.
The test car was a 2.0 TDI SE, which costs £20,860, and I reckoned was top value for money.
I was impressed with the high specification in this entry-level model which included 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, MMI radio with its 11 millimetre-thin electrically folding screen, preparation for SD card navigation, Audi Music Interface iPod connection, Bluetooth, a multi-function steering wheel and voice control for telephone and audio system functions.
Once again, the cabin in this model didn’t fail to impress with high-quality fittings and finish that you might expect in an executive model.
Performance didn’t disappoint either, as this powerful engine responded sharply right up through the slick six-speed manual transmission and handling was first class.
It was no slouch with acceleration to 62mph in 8.6 seconds and a top speed of 134mph with meant there was little engine noise when travelling at maximum motorway speed.
The new improved start-stop engine range has brought fuel economy gains of up to 12 per cent and this model’s figures are outstanding – 68.9mpg combined, 78.5mpg extra urban, and 57.7mpg urban.
Ride and comfort was also excellent for a car of this size although tall passengers might find it a bit cramped for legroom in the rear.
Like the allroad, the A3 was another shining example from Audi’s top-quality stable.