Until now, the hottest A3 diesel you could buy was powered by a meagre 148bhp 2.0 TDI engine. Meanwhile sister company Volkswagen could offer the 181bhp Golf GTD.

Well now the gap has been filled with the launch of a 181bhp A3 TDI available in Hatch, Sportback and Saloon (to follow), which coincidentally is slightly quicker and more economical than its Golf equivalent.

If you need a further excuse to check out the A3, it’s available in quattro all-wheel-drive form, in conjunction with Audi’s Sport or S line trim. Front-wheel-drive versions are equipped as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox, while quattro variants with Audi’s six-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission.

Pricing is tight enough between the A3 and GTD to call upon the duties of a spreadsheet – The 181bhp A3 TDI will cost from £24,375 to £30,055, while the Golf GTD lists from £25,285.

Performance of the two is remarkably close, with the manual A3 recording 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds and a top speed 145mph. The GTD can offer 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 142 mph.

  • Audi_A3_TDI_G3
  • Volkswagen-Golf-GTD

Audi A3 Sportback 2.0 TDI quattro and Volkswagen Golf GTD, both powered by the same 181bhp turbo-diesel engine.

If fuel efficiency is more your thing, the A3 delivers 68.9 mpg with CO2 emissions of 108g/km, while the GTD responds with 67.3 mpg and 109 g/km.

In quattro versions of the A3, a new multi-plate clutch sends power from the front to the rear axle in a few milliseconds and weighs significantly less than the previous unit. Torque is applied to the front wheels by default, transferring to the rear in varying degrees as needed.

In the interest of better load distribution, the clutch is located at the end of the prop shaft, in front of the rear differential, which also helps in saving weight.

Unlike the Golf GTD which comes as standard with a GTI-like trim, 18-inch wheels and sports suspension, the A3 TDI needs to be specified in either Sport or S line guise.

Thereafter a choice of sports suspension is available at no extra cost, lowered by 15mm over standard with a tauter, more handling-focused bias. S line models can also be equipped with the most overtly sporting set-up, offering a ride height lowered by 25mm over standard.

For added appeal, Audi is offering the option of advanced Light Emitting Diode (LED) headlights on the A3, achieving near daylight-like levels of illumination. In SE and Sport models, they can be specified as part of a new LED lights package costing £2,000, while for S line models the price drops to just £795.

The new 181bhp A3 TDI is available to order now ahead of first deliveries in September.

Written By

Steve Davies

Steve is an investor, private equity advisor and former Partner at KPMG, PwC and Bain.   Most importantly he's a life-long car enthusiast, mountain biker and active sports enthusiast. He designs and builds technology platforms and is the architect behind Transmission.

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