Brand new Hugo Boss suits are either expensive or extremely expensive.
But even the least expensive black business suit from Germany’s finest fashion company is tailored to perfection.
The 1.8-litre A3 Sportback is a bit like that “cheap” Boss suit, then.
The most obvious would be the newly appointed LED “jewellery” (Audi’s signature daytime running lights) that adorns the headlamps.
The tail lamps, too, have been refreshed, and there are now signal repeaters in the exterior mirrors.
The bumpers are also new.
But the basic, no-nonsense shape of the A3 remains unchanged; it’s been a long six years since it adopted that striking single-frame radiator grille.
The A3 is anything but long in the tooth, though, thanks to a good set of features, both under the bonnet and inside the cabin.
Mechanically, the A3 sports a hearty 1.8-litre turbo 4-cylinder hooked up to a 7-speed S tronic gearbox, Audi’s version of Volkswagen’s brilliant and proven DSG dual-clutch transmission.
On the road, the car is a nippy number in all tarmac and traffic conditions, although our demonstrator seems to be suffering from a slightly slipping clutch between fast gear changes.
The front-drive handling is ultimately less grippy than the quattro-equipped 3-door A3 variants.
But it’s always safe, while the ride is quiet when cruising and generally pliant.
On board the vehicle, there are enough amenities to satisfy the junior executive.
These include a supportive pair of Alcantara-cum-leather sports seats with electric adjustment, highly effective climate control, a powerful stereo system and a comprehensive trip computer.
Maintaining Audi’s reputation for high quality, despite the car’s low price (for an Audi), are the hefty doors, solid switchgear and classy interior materials.
Space in the back seats and in the 370-litre boot is nothing to shout about, but the cargo hold is evenly shaped and easily expands to 1100 litres by folding the split-fold rear seats back.
Weekend warriors can rope in oversized implements with the help of the A3’s sleek roof rails.
Audi’s cheapest model still isn’t cheap.
But if you consider the A3 Sportback 1.8T in isolation as the most affordable new Audi today, with many of the brand’s admirable qualities for far less money than the fancier flagship models, then it makes some sense.
2009 Audi A3 Sportback 1.8 (A)
ENGINE 1798cc, inline-4, 16-valves, turbocharged
MAX POWER 160bhp at 5000rpm
MAX TORQUE 250Nm at 1500rpm
GEARBOX 7-speed dual-clutch with manual select
0-100KM/H 7.7 seconds
TOP SPEED 222km/h
CONSUMPTION 15.2km/L (combined)
PRICE INCL. COE $116,200