Audi A3 hatchback (2005-2012)
"The A3 hatchback is expensive, but it’s really well built and good to drive. The Audi badge offers cast-iron resale values, too."
- Excellent build quality
- Comfortable interior
- Economical diesel engines
- Top spec models are expensive
- BMW 1 Series is sportier to drive
- Dark cabin feels slightly claustrophobic in the back
It’s hard to justify the Audi A3 hatchback’s high price tag when you consider this car is mechanically similar to the cheaper Volkswagen Golf. However, the A3 is exceptionally well built and offers a fantastic way to get your foot on the premium car ladder. The car’s four-ringed Audi badge gives it great street cred and cast-iron resale values, so it's always a safe place to put your money.
This generation of Audi A3 has now been replaced. You can read our in-depth review of the latest Audi A3 here.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Diesel engines are the best bet for low running costs. The 1.6 TDI diesel will return 68.9mpg on average and cost only £35 a year in Road Tax – even some of the more powerful 2.0 TDI diesels fall into this bracket. Audi offers a series of MoT and servicing deals, so it's worth looking into what's available before you buy.
Engines, drive & performance
The Audi A3 hatchback is comfortable, and its performance on the road is reasonable… It certainly isn't bad to drive, but the steering is very light and the car doesn’t feel as responsive as competitors like the Golf GTI. The entry-level 1.6-litre petrol engine is a good budget choice, but the smaller 1.4 TFSI turbo petrol engine is more powerful, yet cleaner and more efficient. There are numerous diesel versions to choose from, all of which have plenty of power and are cheap to run.
Interior & comfort
The A3 hatchback’s smooth ride means it offers impressive motorway comfort. There's plenty of room inside, too, but choosing a muted interior colour can make it seem quite dark – particularly in the back. The seats are supportive and offer plenty of adjustment, so finding a comfortable driving position is easy. The only snag is that tall drivers might find that their left knee rubs on the centre console.
Practicality & boot space
There's space for four people inside the A3 hatchback, and luggage space is competitive. You get 350 litres of boot space with the rear seats upright, which is good when compared to rivals such as the BMW 1 Series (330 litres). Fold those seats down and there's a maximum of 1,080 litres available, but you're left with a step in the load area, which makes it unsuitable for bulky items. The A3’s turning circle is tight, which makes squeezing into small parking spaces easy. Parking sensors are a cost option but are useful as rear visibility is limited by the thick rear window frames.
Reliability & safety
The A3 hatchback is just as well built as the more expensive cars in Audi's range, and it exudes quality. The engines are shared with many other cars in the Volkswagen Group (which Audi is part of), so they're tried, tested and very durable.
Price, value for money & options
It's hard to justify paying the extra cash for the A3 when there are equivalent cars – like the Volkswagen Golf - that are almost as competent. Audi markets the A3 as a prestige hatchback, and its desirable badge means that while you will pay more to buy, it will hang on to its value well.