04 April 2024

2014 Audi A3 Sportback 1.4 TFSI (8V) - Review and Test Drive

In this review we’re going to take a look at this 2014 Audi A3 Sportback.

 This is the 8V or third generation A3 that was introduced in 2012. Sportback was the name affixed to the 5 door models. The 3 door versions were simply known as the hatchback.


With this generation Audi fully embraced this modern, edgy design language. There are sharp creases on just about every body panel. The belt-line, for instance, goes all around the car un-interrupted.

Central to the design is, the now, hexagonal grille. It gives the car a handsome, chiseled look.
It’s not aggressive by modern standards, it’s merely confident and business-like.

This particular car is in Sport trim, which is basically a handling package. It comes with slightly lowered and much stiffer suspension, compared to the normal SE spec.

The only visual differences on the outside are the wheels. The 17 inch alloys and 225/45 tires were standard on this trim level. 


Inside, you are greeted by a somewhat minimalist but, nonetheless stylish cabin. Of course, it’s all black and grey but, everywhere you look, you find these tasteful aluminium and chrome accents. They work really well with the dark undertones; they manage to give the cabin an air of distinction.

Fit and finish is, as you’d expect from Audi, that is to say excellent.

The Sport trim comes with these well-bolstered front seats, that feature extendable thigh supports. You also get this wonderful 3 spoke steering wheel.

The coolest feature on the car is the infotainment system, the screen of which, graciously emerges out of the dashboard. A life giving ritual, reminding you that the ignition is on.

The device itself is fairly basic in functions. It has satnav, digital radio, Bluetooth and it will read SD cards or a USB stick. Plenty enough for me.

The instrument cluster is a very conventional affair, four basic gauges and a small LCD in the middle.

On the centre console you’ll note the lack of a handbrake lever, it is electro-mechanical. On this car you have to set it yourself but, it will release automatically when you pull away.

All the buttons, behind the gear lever, control the infotainment system and they work reasonably well provided you learn them by feel. Luckily the more basic functions can also be controlled by the buttons on the steering wheel.

Six speed manual gearbox and then… there’s this button: Drive Select. It is basically a pretentious sport button that works on multiple levels. The button serves as a shortcut, you set it up from the screen.

There are 3 basic driving modes: Efficient, Comfort and Dynamic. Auto allows the car to detect your driving style while in Individual you can mix and match from the other three. On this car Drive Select controls two things: throttle response and steering effort. Obviously, in Dynamic mode you get the snappiest throttle response and a somewhat firm steering wheel. In Efficient mode the throttle response is slow, it offers a lazy and linear acceleration, maximizing fuel economy.

The sporty theme continues in the back, with the seats simulating modest thigh bolsters. There is plenty of space for two occupants but, the third seat is pretty much unusable due to the large central tunnel.

Recessed seatbelt buckles are a nice touch. They won’t poke you in the backside and you don’t have to hunt for them.

The boot is of a pretty good size for this segment and again we have a few nice touches like soft padded liners all round, bag hooks, tie down points and so on. The boot floor is height adjustable; so you just grab the handle and raise the floor to a higher rail. Now you have a flat loading area that’s level with the boot lip and also with the folded rear seats.


Under the bonnet we find a 1.4 litre, turbocharged, petrol engine. It’s a tiny little thing that, at least on paper, promises big power.

It makes 122 German horses and 200 NM of torque available from as low as 1400 rpm. Now that’s a pretty good number, if you take into account the fact, that a naturally aspirated engine would have to be around 2 litres in size to make the same amount of torque; and that torque would not be available from such a low rpm. But, these are just numbers on a page: let’s go for a drive.


So the question remains: can this little engine match the performance of an older generation naturally aspirated 2 litre?

Well, my previous car was the older generation Audi A3 with a 2 litre naturally aspirated petrol engine that made 150 HP and, more importantly, 200 NM of torque at about 3500 rpm. So this is almost a back to back comparison.

Straight away I can tell you that this is a more refined car, everything about it feels more effortless, it feels nimbler, lighter on its feet. The suspension is about the same, rock hard and very planted but, this car is about 100 kg lighter than the old one and that probably helps when it comes to tackling small bumps.

The steering is very precise, it goes around bends like it’s on rails but, there is no feedback whatsoever.

The little engine seems very willing; there isn’t much in the way of turbo lag unless you catch it out by shifting up to soon and then putting your foot down. As long as you keep the revs above 1500 it feels happy.

The gearing is nice and short in first but, then it gets very long. Not really suitable for sporty driving but, then again, the newer the car, the more this seems to be the case. I’m guessing they were trying to economically exploit all that low end torque.

Overall, I’m pleased to report, this car has passed the test. In fact, at speeds below 50 mph it is quicker and feels stronger than my old 2 litre A3. At higher speeds it may not be and that’s because the small turbo on the engine is a trade-off. It spools up quickly, it’s on boost at tick-over but, above 4500 rpm, it’s starting to run out of puff, which is another story.

The End.