FOR a man who likes a bit of welly in his motor, a BMW was always his speedmobile of choice.
FOR a man who likes a bit of welly in his motor, a BMW was always his speedmobile of choice. Now, it appears that Audi is getting the upper hand when it comes to serving up real live motorised toys for the middle-aged masculine driver — and perhaps the younger boy racers, too.
Audi’s new A3 Sportback 2.0 TDI model is in fact just the ticket, with its two-litre, six-speed turbo diesel engine, interior gadget station and five-arm alloy wheels.
One thing struck me as prominently as its glacier white metallic coating throughout my ride in this vehicle — and that was the constant nagging to turn up the heat and fully utilise its 150 horsepower.
From the moment I pulled away it felt like I was being rushed into getting out of first gear and picking up the pace. Even once I was settled at a comfortable speed, the “encouragement” didn’t subside.
Cruising along in fifth gear on fast country roads, a light appeared on the dashboard urging me to change to sixth gear. It was as if I had a miniature Lewis Hamilton perched on my shoulder egging me on to go faster.
Of course, in the Henley area there aren’t a huge number of wide open roads to turn into your very own Silverstone — but the versatility of the A3 Sportback meant you could at least find your own Monaco circuit.
That’s because it holds the road so well that it’s as comfortable navigating the harsh bends and slides of the Wargrave Road as it is gear-hopping down the outside lane of the M4.
From the silent engine to the snuggle of the sports suspension on board, the A3 Sportback is as smooth as the leather steering wheel from which you command it.
Speed and performance are certainly the most important facets of any good drive, but the ultimate man-mobile would be nothing without a bit of technical panache for the driver to enjoy from the cockpit of his four-wheeled lair.
The Audi music interface provides connection to fourth-generation iPods and the iPhone as well as USB storage media and MP3 players, while it is also equipped with Bluetooth and hands-free mobile phone connectivity for audio streaming as well as calling.
With eight speakers and a total output of 80 watts, turning up the volume of your classic rock anthems goes hand in hand with a full throttle journey.
The satellite navigation system is easy to use and provides clearer directions than your average satnav, while other useful items in the gadget directory include dual-zone electronic climate control, a stop-start braking system and a rear acoustic parking system.
Even the dial that operates the satnav screen is impressive for those who can’t be bothered to select each individual letter of their destination. You simply run your finger along the top of the dial and you can write out the letter you want. This may not actually add that much to the vehicle and it may lose its novelty by the time you’ve selected your third destination in the navigation system, but it’s cool add-ons like this which make a man feel like this is the car for him. Great gadgets, great handling, and once I got used to it, I even liked my own in-car speed prompt. When you’re in the Audi A3 Sportback you feel like you own the road.
THE widely-acclaimed Isuzu D-Max has collected yet another accolade — the prestigious 2013 VansA2Z Pick-Up of the Year Award, announced in London last week.
Launched last June, the D-Max has quickly established itself as a worthy successor to the Rodeo and has become a big sales hit, elevating the Japanese brand to second place in the UK pick-up sales rankings.
IN the 2012 financial year, Porsche achieved record levels in sales, turnover and earnings. At 143,096 vehicles, sales were 22 per cent higher than in the previous year.
Turnover increased by 27 per cent to 13.9 billion euros, while the operating result grew by 19 per cent to 2.44 billion euros. The number of employees totalled 17,502.