Audi A3 Sportback hatchback
Price: £18,900 - £32,740
- High quality interior
- Massive boot
- Very comfortable
- Less stylish than three-door A3
- BMW 1 Series is more fun to drive
- Quite expensive
"The Audi A3 Sportback is a family hatchback that offers a premium level of luxury and interior quality that you don’t usually find in this class."
It's a five-door version of the standard Audi A3, although it's 35mm longer, which means it has more space for rear passengers and a bigger boot. It beats all its major rivals for practicality and the quality of its interior is the best in the class – its superbly put together, the materials are all high class and the design is stylish.
It also has a great range of engines, costs very little to run, and is fun to drive, too. In fact, it's one the best family hatchbacks around.
MPG, running costs & CO2
A range of frugal diesels means the A3 Sportback has very low running costs
All of the engines in the Audi A3 range offer a good mix of power and economy, but the 1.6-litre TDI diesel is the most efficient. It will do 74.3mpg and emit just 99g/km CO2, which makes it exempt from road tax. The larger 2.0-litre TDI diesel offers more power and will still return 67.3mpg – it offers the best balance of performance and running costs in the range.
However, even the petrol engines offer impressive economy and emission figures. That's especially true of the 1.4-litre TFSI engine, which uses Cylinder On Demand technology that switches off two of the four cylinders when the car is cruising to conserve fuel.
Interior & comfort
Interior is best in class and comfort levels are impressive
The interior is superb – material and build quality are second-to-none, the design is simple and stylish, and the layout is intuitive and easy-to-use. No other family hatchback can match the A3's interior.
The Sportback is more comfortable than the standard A3, too, thanks to the fact the front and rear wheels are spaced wider apart, which helps to flatten out bumps.
The suspension has been well tuned to cope with rough roads, but higher-spec S line cars come with sportier suspension, and we’d recommend you avoid this as it makes the ride uncomfortably firm, without really improving the car's handling.
Practicality & boot space
Plenty of space for passengers and the boot is roomy, too
The Audi A3 Sportback is bigger than the three-door model and is more spacious as a result. It's very noticeable on the inside, easily carrying four adults without complaints about a lack of head and legroom.
The boot is bigger, too. The standard A3 hatchback has 350 litres of space, but that increases to 380 litres in the Sportback. Fold down the rear seats and it expands to 1,220 litres. Both figures are bigger than what's on offer from the BMW 1 Series, Volvo V40 and Mercedes A-Class and there's a useful false floor for storing valuable out of sight.
Reliability & safety
Excellent build quality, five-star safety rating, but poor customer feedback
The Audi A3 Sportback hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP, but the standard A3 has and received the full five stars. On top of an array of airbags, traction control, electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes, it also has a lane departure warning (which alerts the driver if they stray out of the lane) and a ‘Pre Sense’ system that primes the seat belts and closes the windows if the car starts to skid.
The build quality on the A3 Sportback is superb, and we would expect it to be reliable. That said, the A3 performed poorly in the most recent Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, failing to crack the top 100 and coming a lowly 110th.
Engines, drive & performance
A3 Sportback comes with a wide range of powerful, quiet and frugal engines
There's an enormous range of petrol and diesel engines in the A3 Sportback – so you should have no trouble finding the one that offers the best mix of performance and economy for you.
The entry-level engine is a 104bhp 1.2-litre TSI petrol engine, and its performance is fine if your budget won’t stretch any further. At the other end of the scale is the sporty Audi S3 Sportback, which features a 296bhp 2.0-litre TFSI engine that will take it from 0-62mph in just five seconds.
Our pick would be the 1.6-litre diesel engine, which offers a decent level of performance but will also return 74.3mpg. But all the engines are smooth and quiet, while the A3 Sportback handles well thanks to a lightweight body, accurate steering and well-tuned suspension. It's not as fun to drive as the BMW 1 Series, though.
Price, value for money & options
It’s not cheap, but it’s of a higher quality than most rivals
The Audi A3 Sportback is a premium hatchback, so it isn’t cheap. It’ll cost you more than a five-door Volkswagen Golf (on which the A3 is based) – although only by a couple of hundred pounds – and the Audi is a higher quality car, so arguably it's worth the extra money.
It does come fairly well equipped, too. Even basic models get alloy wheels, air-con, front and back electric windows and a seven-inch media screen that rises out of the dashboard.
What the others say
"The third-generation Audi A3 Sportback may not look different from the old model but it offers more space, better fuel economy, lower emissions and more equipment."
"The Audi A3 Sportback is an outstanding car in almost every respect – it's a superb buy."
"It may not look as stylish as the three-door model and it costs £620 more, but with its luxurious cabin, grown-up handling and new-found practicality, the Sportback is one of the best all-rounders Audi builds."
Last updated: 28 Jan 2014