Despite it’s size, the Audi R8 is a new sports car that mixes staggering performance with great refinement and everyday usability with a slightly understated performance. It’s a lovely car that’s low and wide and there’s plenty of leg and shoulder room once you’ve managed to get in it.
The throttle response is slightly soft and in a super car you want that feeling that playing with the throttle is realising a caged animal. The engine is so well developed there’s no kick-point in the torque curve, and the absence of toughs means the peak doesn’t feel so high.
The steering isn’t all that high geared so you use definite, positive predictable movements and get definite, positive and predicable results. Peel it hard into a slow corner and there’s little stabilising under steer, but use a little throttle and it settles neutrally before an awesome catapult exit. It swallows the bumps hardly rolls. The body roll is terrific.
Eight-piston fixed callipers on the front axle and four-piston fixed callipers on the rear axle give the Audi R8 supreme stopping power and directional stability. The electronic stabilisation program, ESP 8.0 - configured in three modes for the first time, offers high driving safety and vehicle stability.
The Audi R8 is fast, beautiful and everything a mid-engine sports car should be, and boasts a half decent boot too. It has a high insurance grouping and low mpg, making the R8 expensive to run. However, if you need to justify it, expect high used values due too the car’s rarity.
The Audi A3 has an extensive range including four different petrol engines and three diesel models. The Audi confidently corners on windy roads and the grip levels and body roll are conservative and competently managed. The Sport models have some extra tightened suspension settings that can be overly harsh for some, although they bring a different perspective to the drive.
The interior is strong with the German company using its typically sturdy, but unexciting finishes. Alloy wheels, electric windows and remote central locking are fitted to each car. The entry-level 1.6-litre three-door has a very basic specification and comes without air-conditioning or a CD player, but things get better further up the ladder and cruise control is fitted to the SE models. Leather is an option on every specification except Sport.
The three-door model doesn’t give a huge amount of rear leg-space, although the five-door is much better. Head room is adequate in both, as is the size of the boot at 350 litres (three-door) and 370 litres (five-door), giving plenty of room for everyone’s luggage and making it a practical option for all users.
The Audi A3 is also fitted with electronic stability control and electronic brake force. Running costs should be reasonable throughout the range. The new 100bhp 1.9 TDi returns an incredible 62.7mpg and emits just 119g/km of CO2 which results in a cheap company car and road fund tax.
The Audi A3 is definitely a good solid buy that is likely to have a slow depreciation in it residual value. The final verdict is a good quality three and five door hatchback that is comfortable and strong.