Audi/HyundaiCompany cruisers: The Audi A3 Sportback with (inset) the Hyundai i40 (top) and the Audi A5 Sportback
Audi A3 Sportback
If you need a compact set of wheels but still want the advantages of quickly converting them into an erstwhile van, the smaller Audi A3 Sportback is an excellent option.
Here’s an agile little mover that loses nothing to its hatch-back sibling in terms of cornering and road holding yet delivers a capacity to load up with an impressive 1,220-litres of customer samples or holiday luggage with the rear seats folded or 380-litres with passengers in place.
The fire-cracker in this line-up is the 178 brake horsepower 1.8TSI version with S-tronic auto gearbox which delivers a lively 0-60mph charge of 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 144mph. Yet, thanks to a comparatively lithe kerbweight of 1,280kgs, this hot-estate boasts a claimed combined fuel economy of about 50mpg although the car is such fun to rev up and enjoy the cornering capabilities of the solid little chassis that most drivers will usually see fuel disappear in the mid-30s!
Audi have taken steps to off-set some criticism that certain models suffer from too harsh a ride and offer a softer suspension option at no extra cost to cope with the increasingly pot-holed roads of the UK.
A big improvement on the previous model and well suited for those who need the practicality of extra carrying capacity.
Audi A3 Sportback
Engine: 1.8-litre TSI
Top Speed: 144mph
Hyundai i40 v Audi A5 Sportback
In a recent survey of sales professional readers of SI we found that premium badges still command more desirability even than safety.
In a profession where image and confidence is paramount, that’s probably not surprising. What is surprising is that the South Koreans have launched a big executive saloon in the brand sensitive UK. Yet, despite the challenge, the Hyundai i40 is a top-draw attempt to steal some sales from the big Bavarian players.
So we put it head-to-head with the leaders of premium brands, Audi, and pitched the A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI against the Hyundai i40 1.7 CRDi.
So let’s begin with one of the most important aspects of the modern car as a lifestyle statement – the looks.
Lined up side-by-side, both cars exude class and authority in equal measure and the sort of motors that tell people walking past, as you open the driver’s door, that the owner has reached a level in life that says achievement, success and independence with a clear appreciation of the finer things in life.
Even inside the cabin, quality of build, fit and materials used are on a fairly even par. This is no accident because the i40 is a wholly European designed car and matches the A5’s stylish detailing and driver-focused ergonomics.
Initially, the interior space seems about the same although the statistics back up Hyundai’s claim to have one of the biggest luggage capacities in the sector boasting 553-litres of load space with seats in place against just 480-litres with the German rival.
However, things start to swing back in the A5’s favour when you take the beasts for a quick blast down your favourite country roads. Here, the Audi’s extra horsepower really comes to the fore, with a lusty 175 brake horsepower to call on from its 2.0-litre turbo diesel, the big saloon can trip the 60mph barrier in just 8.5 seconds. At the same time you’ll have to work the i40’s 1.7-litre turbo diesel quite hard to liberate just 134 brake horsepower to achieve a sprint time of 10.3 seconds. To be fair, there is the range-topping 2.0-litre petrol available with 174 brake horsepower if you want to match the Audi we tested for pace.
But what the Hyundai will not match the A5 on is economy because, despite being down on performance, we saw little more than 42mpg on the i40 while the faster Audi regularly returned economy in the low 50s.
Both cars drive nicely without being overly sporty, offering a good level of control versus comfort but pushing the cars harder shows the Audi’s chassis has the advantage on the UK’s barely maintained tarmac offering much more precision in steering control and less body roll than the Hyundai. While the i40’s gearbox felt a little on the sloppy side, the A5’s felt a little over stiff and wooden so there’s nothing to call in that area.
So now it’s down to what budget your organisation will give you to replace your old company workhorse. Here, too, the Hyundai really does make a great case being nearly £10k cheaper than the dynamically superior A5.
Trouble is, you’re left weighing up the extra creature comforts you’ll be able to load it up with for those long road trips against the pulling power of the Audi badge when rolling into the prospect’s car park!
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Engine: 1.7-litre turbo
Top Speed: 125mph
Audi A5 Sportback
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo
Top Speed: 142mph