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Car trim reviews

Audi A3 SE

"The Audi A3 is an upmarket, three-door hatchback, based on the VW Golf. Audi’s image means the A3 remains a desirable car."

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To all intents and purposes, the A3 is a posh Volkswagen Golf. It’s available with only three doors, although there is a separate, more expensive, model called the A3 Sportback if you want five doors. It's is one of the most desirable compact hatchbacks around and Volkswagen Golf mechanical parts ensure it is a fine car to drive, especially in SE trim, where the suspension is a bit more comfortable.

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Audi’s attention to detail and quality takes care of the rest. The SE is available with 1.2- and 1.4-litre TFSI petrol engines and 1.6 and 2.0 TDI diesels - the latter is also offered with quattro four-wheel drive.

Most versions can be ordered with a twin-clutch semi-automatic gearbox. SE throws in small 16-inch alloys, air-con, a DAB digital radio and a leather trimmed steering wheel. It'll be the basic model for many, but it still has a decent amount of equipment.

Good points

The Audi A3 is an excellent car to drive because it uses the same mechanical parts as the VW Golf. SE models aren’t as firm as some other versions of the A3, and feel much like a Golf to drive, offering a good balance between driver enjoyment and passenger comfort.The engines on offer are all strong and pretty economical, so Audi’s premium image doesn’t bring premium running costs with it.The interior fit and finish are the best in class, and the car’s desirability means you’ll get more of your money back when you sell it on.

Bad points

The Audi A3 costs more than the equivalent Golf but doesn’t provide a lot extra, so the Golf might be a better option at this price point. It’s all down to Audi’s image, which seems to be a bit more upmarket than VW’s.The A3 may be good to drive overall, but it's not really a car for enthusiasts - that's where the BMW 1 Series has it licked.

What you get

  • Alloy wheels
  • Folding rear seats
  • Alarm
  • Tyre pressure sensors
  • Passenger & Driver airbag
  • Front side airbags
  • Curtain airbags
  • Front fog lights
  • Manual air conditioning
  • Leather steering wheel
  • Height adjustable driver's seat
  • Front electric windows
  • Single CD player
  • AUX stereo input
  • DAB Radio
  • Cruise control
  • Rear electric windows
  • Bluetooth

Our choice

The 1.4-litre TFSI petrol is very economical and can be equipped with Audi's 'cylinder on demand' technology. It's also pretty powerful too.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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