A new green version of the Audi A3 1.6 TDI – already the most fuel efficient and clean premium badged car – has been launched. Available only in three-door form with Standard spec (image above is a 2.0T), it emits only 99g/km of CO2 and has exceptional combined fuel consumption of 26.3 km/l. The standard A3 1.6 TDI does 24.4 km/l and emits 109g/km of CO2.

Key elements responsible for the efficiency gains include a modified final drive ratio for the five-speed manual transmission, reduced ride height, under-body revisions to reduce drag and the use of 15-inch alloys shod with low rolling resistance tyres. These combine with existing A3 1.6 TDI features such as engine start-stop and brake energy recuperation.

Performance is identical to the standard car – the 1.6 TDI produces 104 bhp and 250 Nm of torque from just 1500 rpm, good for 0-100 km/h in 11.4 seconds and a top speed of 195 km/h. As usual for modern diesels, real-world performance is much more impressive than the bare figures, and needs to be experienced to believed.

Now, some of you might wonder why European manufacturers keep harping on CO2 emissions. Besides being more environmentally aware than us, countries like the UK align their road tax structure with how much CO2 a car emits, not their engine capacity. Cars that dip below the 100g/km mark, like this A3 TDI, are rewarded with full road tax exemption. I think this is a fairer system than our “big cc, higher tax” method which is too simplistic and does not do much for the introduction of new green tech.

Unfortunately there are very few of such cars available here in Malaysia, except for the sole range of excellent diesels recently launched by BMW.