Audi A3 hatchback

Price  £18,575 - £32,420

Audi A3 hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

  • Great engines
  • Fantastic interior
  • Quiet on the motorway
  • High list prices
  • Rear seats are tight
  • BMW 1 Series is more fun to drive

At a glance

The greenest
1.6 TDI SE 3dr £20,825
The cheapest
1.2 TFSI SE 3dr £18,575
The fastest
2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic 3dr £32,420
Top of the range
2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic 3dr £32,420

"The Audi A3 is a fantastic all-rounder – it feels luxurious, hi-tech and robust. In short, it’s everything that makes an Audi special, but condensed in to a family hatchback-sized package."

The Audi A3 is a three-door hatchback that shares many of its mechanical parts with the Volkswagen Golf and SEAT Leon. What sets it apart from those cars is a focus on luxury and interior quality – plus the desirable Audi badge. Its main premium hatchback rivals are the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class, with all carrying similar price tags and boasting similar interior space.

The A3 has a pretty comprehensive engine range, with four petrols and three diesels. There's even a plug-in hybrid A3, called the A3 e-tron, which will return nearly 200mpg.

We’d recommend the 1.4-litre TFSI petrol model with cylinder-on-demand technology – not only does it feel quite fast, but it also shuts down parts of the engine that aren’t needed on the move, helping improve fuel economy to 60.1mpg. That's astonishing for a petrol engine as smooth and powerful as this.

We also like the 1.6-litre TDI diesel because of its excellent 74.3mpg economy figure, and while it only has 104bhp, it feels surprisingly quick. Most engines come with the option of an S tronic automatic gearbox, which doesn’t affect fuel economy and is quick and smooth – we’d even recommend it above the manual gearbox.

Quattro four-wheel drive comes as standard on the more powerful engines.

You’ll be happy with the entry-level SE trim, as you get alloy wheels, front electric windows, air-conditioning, a DAB radio and a colour display that slides out of the top of the dashboard. One thing we would suggest is to make sure you can live with the sports suspension that comes on Sport and S line models – it's firm and can be uncomfortable for long journeys. Luckily, you can still have your sportier Audi A3 without it if you want.

As well as the three-door, you can get the five-door A3 Sportback hatchback, the Audi A3 Saloon, the Audi A3 Cabriolet and the sporty Audi S3.

MPG, running costs & CO2

4.2 / 5

You'll get excellent fuel economy and low emissions from most Audi A3 models, while insurance and servicing won't break the budget

Engines, drive & performance

4.3 / 5

The Audi A3 is a great cruiser thanks to its predictable handling and comfortable ride. There isn't really a bad engine in the range either

Interior & comfort

4.3 / 5

The Audi A3’s interior is one of its finest attributes. Even the air vents seem to be a work of art

Practicality & boot space

4 / 5

While the Audi A3 shares many of its parts with the SEAT Leon and Volkswagen Golf, it’s actually a little less practical, but it still has reasonable space for four people and their luggage

Reliability & safety

4.4 / 5

Audi A3 owners praise their cars' reliability and it’s got a good reputation for safety thanks to a high Euro NCAP crash-test rating

What the others say

4 / 5
based on 2 reviews
4 / 5
So plenty has changed, apart from the looks. Audi itself describes the new A3 as evolutionary, but man has evolved faster than the look of Audi's line-up. The goatee grill remains but there's slightly slimmer headlights, a sharper crease along the sides and larger rear lights. It looks like more of a facelift than an all-new car, but such is the way of Audi's design these days – it probably won’t harm sales: Audi's lookalike line-up helped the marque to a record year in 2011, with 2012 set to grow even further.
4 / 5
Don’t be fooled, though. The latest A3 is built on a new platform that will also underpin the next generation Volkswagen Golf. There are big efficiency gains; engine stop-start is now standard across the range, and Audi has used aluminium and high-strength steel to help make the new car up to 80kg lighter than the old one.
New Audi A3 goes on sale in the UK from September 2012 with prices starting at around £19,000. Five-door Sportback from later in 2012. A3 styling takes inspiration from Audi's current line-up with the front end very similar to the recently revised A4 range while rear echoes new A6 saloon. From the side it's still recognisable as an A3 and despite not being exactly a big departure in terms of looks, it's a neat design.
What owners say 
4.2 /5 based on 350 reviews
 people would recommend this car to a friend
Last updated 
25 Sep 2014

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