Audi A3 Sportback hatchback

Price  £19,485 - £35,690

Audi A3 Sportback hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

  • Most spacious model in the range
  • Good range of engines
  • High quality interior
  • Some versions’ ride is too firm
  • Not the cheapest car in the class
  • Various rivals have more bootspace

At a glance

Our Pick
1.4 TFSI 140PS SE 5dr £21,635
The greenest
1.4 TFSI e-tron 5dr £35,690
The cheapest
1.2 TFSI SE 5dr £19,485
The fastest
Nav 2.0 TFSI quattro Sportback S tronic 5dr £33,330
Top of the range
1.4 TFSI e-tron 5dr £35,690

“The Audi A3 Sportback is a classy and high-quality family hatchback. It’s not the cheapest in the class, but its all-round excellence makes it feel worth it.”

Essentially, the Audi A3 Sportback is a five-door version of the standard three-door A3 hatchback. As ever, though, it's not quite that simple. The Sportback boasts more space inside, as well as a bigger boot. This is largely thanks to a 35mm longer wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels). Like many Audis, the A3 Sportback is a smart, if understated-looking thing from the outside, but this suits the car's character very well.

There's no doubting that the Audi A3 Sportback is an exemplary car in a class that's full of top performers. As a family hatchback, it provides space, style and practicality in an upmarket package. It's quite pricey, though, with the entry-level model starting at nearly £20,000 and the most expensive e-tron plug-in hybrid topping £35,000.

This plants the A3 firmly at the more premium end of the class – taking on rivals such as the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class. It's much more expensive than the Volkswagen Golf on which it's based, but it's likely to hold on to a decent proportion of its value when the time comes to sell. A high-quality interior makes it feels worth the money, too. The A3 is a great place to spend time, all the controls are easy to use and it's beautifully built and designed.

There's no chance you’ll feel short-changed by the choice of engines in the A3. Whether you want a petrol, diesel or plug-in petrol-electric hybrid, there's one for you. There are four petrols available, ranging from 1.4 to 2.0-litres in capacity and all turbocharged. They produce from 108 to 296bhp and emit between 116 and 162g/km of CO2.

Our favourite petrol is the 148bhp 1.4-litre, as it offers the best blend of performance and economy. You can have this engine with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Which one you go for is down to personal taste – running costs don’t change – but the automatic adds about £1,500 to the purchase price. 

If you want the quickest version, you’ll have to go for the 296bhp Audi S3. This will do the 0-62mph sprint in 4.8 seconds (with the six-speed S tronic automatic gearbox) and go on to an electronically limited 155mph top speed. 

The petrol-electric plug-in hybrid e-tron combines a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine with an electric motor to give a total of 201bhp. Officially, the A3 e-tron will also return 176mpg and emits just 37g/km of CO2 – exempting it from road tax and the London Congestion Charge.

Diesels will be the big sellers, however, with a choice of four options displacing either 1.6 or 2.0-litres. They produce between 108 and 182bhp, with CO2 emissions ranging from 107 to 129g/km. Our favourite – especially if you plan to do loads of miles, or are a company-car buyer – is the 148bhp 2.0-litre. With a manual gearbox, it emits just 109g/km of CO2, which means you’ll pay £110 a year in road tax puts it in the 19% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company-car tax bracket.

All A3 Sportbacks are reasonably well equipped as standard – sat nav is a notable omission, though – with 16-inch alloys, air-conditioning, Bluetooth phone connectivity and DAB digital radio all thrown in. We think it's worth upgrading to SE Technik trim, however, as it has the aforementioned satellite navigation, as well as cruise control, rear parking sensors well and a colour display in the instrument cluster.

MPG, running costs & CO2

4.2 / 5

While BMW offers a three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty on its cars, the Audi A3 Sportback offers just 60,000 miles cover over the same period.

Engines, drive & performance

4.3 / 5

The Audi A3 Sportback delivers a mature blend of predictable handling, a comfortable and quiet ride, plus smooth and effortless performance

Interior & comfort

4.2 / 5

Thanks to the Audi A3 Sportback’s widely adjustable seat and steering wheel, it’s easy to find the perfect driving position

Practicality & boot space

3.8 / 5

Fitted with one of the powerful but frugal diesel engines and four-wheel drive, the roomy and practical Audi A3 Sportback makes a great tow car

Reliability & safety

4.2 / 5

Owners who responded to our customer satisfaction survey placed the Audi A3 hatchback an impressive 16th out of 150 cars for reliability and build quality

What the others say

4.5 / 5
based on 4 reviews
4 / 5
“Factor in its well-built, high-tech cabin and new-found practicality and it's one of the best cars in the current Audi range.”
4.5 / 5
“Its weight has been cut by 90kg compared with the previous model and that has helped to keep fuel consumption and CO2 emissions down.”
5 / 5
“The SE's suspension provides the best balance of comfort and control, and you can specify it at no extra cost with every trim level.”
9 / 10
"The A3 is one of the best family hatchbacks around, thanks to its classy interior, entertaining drive and surprisingly reasonable ownership costs."
What owners say 
4.2 /5 based on 6 reviews
 of people would recommend this car to a friend

Owner rating:

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Last updated 
24 Nov 2015
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