The Launch of The Audi A3 Sportback In Monte Carlo By Fiona Sanderson

Where better to test-drive the new Audi A3 Sportback than around the Grand Prix circuit and streets of Monte Carlo?

Arriving in Monaco to beautiful sunshine, I had a very open mind about Audi’s latest baby, the A3 Sportback. Whilst familiar with the A3’s cousin, the A4, this was driving into altogether new territory.

Despite how Audi may wish to market the Sportback, this really is a girl’s car. So, with that established, let’s get past the techno-babble to talk girl specifics.

First off, there are lights in the make-up mirrors, foot areas and cup holders as standard. There is ample boot space for multiple shopping bags (an extra 20 litres compared to the standard A3, in fact), and its small, understated shape make this is the perfect car for zipping about town. Whilst your Ferrari Scallietti may look the part outside the Monte Carlo Casino, it’s much larger than the Sportback and harder to handle. The Sportback is so light, I didn’t have to think about driving it. There’s lots more headroom and legroom than the standard A3 model, making for a much more comfortable drive.

With petrol prices going through the roof in the UK, it’s good to know that Audi have made the Sportback far more ecological. I am told both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions have been drastically cut down by Audi, by an average of 10% compared to a standard A3. The 1.6 litre diesel engine gives an unbelievable 74 miles to the gallon, whilst emitting CO2 emissions in the region of 99g per km (Audi also offer two petrol models). I am told that Audi are launching a gas and electric model next year, which will really take us into a new era of driving.

Looks-wise, the Sportback lives up to its name – I think its sporty looks certainly fit in with the ‘in crowd’ and its onboard gadgets (including optional colour monitor), mean it can get you from Prada to Val D’Isere with little hardship whilst giving you all the best lunch stops at a push of button. You can have an optional MMI Navigation System with a 64GB media centre with DVD drive and voice control, allowing you to navigate, listen to music and make phone calls whilst on the move. Perfect for us girls! Audi offers Internet through Audi Connect, giving access to social networks, traffic updates and even train and station information, through a personalised myAudi account that links directly to the car. You can also read through your e-mails, or have them read aloud to you as you drive. Great for the new generation of technophobes like me, but will probably take a little more ‘getting used to’ if you are a more mature driver.

Navigating the bends of Monte Carlo and the coast of the South of France certainly has its challenges, particularly when the winter light is fading so I welcomed the all round sensors. Safety seems to be something of a priority for Audi. There are sensors for everything – blind spots, parking, the car in front braking too suddenly and even when you are loosing concentration. By analysing the changes in the driver’s steering motion (between 40 and 124 mph), it will give you a ‘wake up call’ with lights and beeps.

Finally, with a top speed of 130mph, this bright and sparky little red car ticked all the boxes for me. Smart, lightweight, economical and roomy, it had all the ‘girl’s toy’s’ that you need for a quick trip around town. Next stop – Audi Sportsback and Country Pursuits!

The Audi A3 Sportback launches early next year, with prices starting at £19,825 for a 1.4 TFSI Sportback SE, ranging up to a top-spec 1.8 TFSI Sportback S line, which will cost you £27,180.

www.audi.co.uk