Mystery Car: The Reveal

Time to reveal the answer to our mystery car puzzle.

Mystery car
Sorry for the low resolution. The light blue car in the foreground is the one we are interested in.

For those of you in doubt, the identity of the mystery car can now be revealed. All you have to do is to take your mouse, stylus or finger to this button and discover that the car in question is the Mk 1 Audi A3.

A Mk1 Audi A3 seen in Wexford. Author’s photo.

This car constituted Audi’s contribution to the incursion of prestige brands into the mainstream car market. BMW offered its 3-series compact and Mercedes proffered its A-Class. Audi was already well positioned for the move, as all it had to do was find a way to offer superior trim and subtly more refined styling to the armature that was the Golf floorpan.

Autocar liked what they found when they tested it in 1996. The only weakish aspect of the car lurked under the bonnet. For a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, it lacked the accelerative oomph you might have expected from such a car. Unlike the A-class or the BMW 3 Series compact, this car didn’t make much of an impression on me. When I went looking for ones to photograph, I did not find many around. Perhaps if I go looking for As and compact 3s I will find the same thing.

Now that I take another look at it, I wonder if the little residual bootoid on the A3 was the inspiration for a similar feature on the 1998 Opel Astra G?

Does anyone remember the German strap-line for the second-generation A3? And while we are here, consider that the A3 has evolved to become a small saloon as well as a five-door hatch and estate-oid. The current A3 saloon is a 4.4-metre car, not much bigger than the much-despised Focus and Astra and saloons …

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

One thought on “Mystery Car: The Reveal”

  1. The Audi A3 8L Mk1 was a proof of concept for Fugen Ferdl’s theory that customers were prepared to make what he called a ‘smart buy’. Which meant they were prepared to pay big car money for a vehicle of smaller external dimensions as long as the product was right.
    It was a relatively low cost effort to keep risk manageable. Sharing the dashboard with the Seat Leon Mk1 but with more expensive surface treatment with rubber paint (which cost them dearly because the paint wore off and the dashboards had to be replaced at Audi’s cost) and most other stuff taken from the great VW meccano kit. Its range of engines started where that of most other cars in the segment ended and you could get relatively powerful engines without getting garish boy racer addenda thrown in for free, making for a grown up product.
    BMW and Mercedes repeated the experiment but didn’t have anything to base their products on so made some awful conraptions out of their products from a class above.

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