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Audi A3 Review

The A3 is a compact premium family car, which is available as both a five-door hatchback and four-door saloon

£14,049
Average Price
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4
Out of 5

Pros

  • Lots of standard kit
  • Classy styling
  • More enjoyable to drive than before

Cons

  • DSG automatic gearbox is dim-witted
  • Interior isn’t as clear as before
  • Not cheap to buy
  • MPG

    46 - 62

  • CO2

    92 - 116 g/km

  • Video

  • Price Guide

  • Trims

  • Summary

Value for money

For premium manufacturers – including Audi, BMW and Mercedes – it’s often their smallest cars that are the most popular. They offer a slice of something more upmarket than a run-of-the-mill Ford or Vauxhall, but aren’t vastly more expensive – appealing to plenty of buyers.

It’s certainly worked for Audi, with its A1 and A3 having huge success – particularly the latter.

The A3 dates back to 1997, and since then it’s proven to be very popular. Not least in the UK, where 600,000 have been sold, which is quite a large proportion of the five million sold around the world – making it Audi’s best-seller in Britain.

Throughout its generations, it’s been well-regarded for its high-quality interior, classy image and ideal family car properties.

Looks and image

Even after eight years in production, the third-generation A3 remained a hugely capable car, and still had one of the best interiors in the business. And it’s something Audi is keen to make sure continues with this new car, which sees big changes being made on the technology front.

It’s a pretty digitalised cabin in the new A3 – headed up by a standard-fit 10.1-inch touchscreen and 10.25-inch digital dials. This new model also adopts Audi’s latest styling changes – including a larger Singleframe grille, as well as new LED lighting, with fancy matrix LED headlights that can filter light around traffic being available for the first time on the A3.

Another change being made is the introduction of mild-hybrid technology – something that helps to give the car increased responsiveness and efficiency. More on that later. It’s also worth noting that the new A3 is no longer available as a three-door rather – rather you have it as a popular five-door Sportback or a sleek four-door saloon.

Space and practicality

The A1 supermini has always just been a bit too small to work as a family car, so the A3 is a much better choice if you’re wanting something as a small family car.

The A3’s cabin isn’t class-leading when it comes to spaciousness, but if you’re after a compact car and don’t require seven-seater levels of room, it’s a worthy choice. Rear seat space is on par with what’s expected for cars of this class, with all but the tallest adults likely to be able to find enough room – providing the driver or front seat passenger doesn’t have their seat too far back. The new model is ever so slightly bigger than before, too, which is handy if you’re upgrading from a previous generation of A3.

The 380-litre boot is exactly the same as that in the BMW 1 Series and Volkswagen Golf – increasing to 1,200 litres with the rear seats folded.

The new A3 is yet to be tested by Euro NCAP, but it’s expected to get a five-star rating when it does – just like the Volkswagen Golf did. The crash avoidance assists fitted as standard can both brake and help to steer the car, while lane departure warning is fitted, too.

Engines

The entry-level engine is a 108bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol (badged 30 TFSI), which comes mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Despite not being the best match for the A3, it can still manage the 0-60mph sprint in a respectable 10.4 seconds. It’s mated to a six-speed manual transmission. The other petrol engine is a 148bhp 1.5-litre unit (badged 35 TFSI), which can reach 60mph in 8.2 seconds. You can choose it with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed S tronic automatic gearbox. If you go for the latter, it also comes with the aforementioned mild-hybrid system.

On the diesel front, a new 114bhp 2.0-litre engine (30 TDI) replaces the 1.6-litre variant found in its predecessor. While not brimming with power, it can still power the A3 from 0-60mph in under 10 seconds. It comes mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.

A more powerful 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel unit is available, which just comes with a seven-speed S tronic automatic gearbox. It achieves the same 0-60mph time of 8.2 seconds as the petrol engine with the same power.

A plug-in hybrid version is also on the way, while hotter ‘S’ and ‘RS’ versions will follow in due course.

Video Review

Running costs

Regardless of which engine you choose with the A3, you can expect low running costs. But currently it’s the 114bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine that’s the most efficient. With this, Audi claims an impressive fuel economy figure of 65.7mpg, with CO2 emissions of 112g/km.

Even the thirstiest option (the 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol) still promises 45.6mpg, with CO2 emissions of 142g/km. Choose the mild-hybrid automatic model for marginal efficiency gains here – it’ll return up to 48.7mpg, with CO2 emissions of 132g/km.

When the plug-in hybrid joins, this’ll be the cleanest option while also increasing its appeal to company car users as well.

Things to look out for 

The latest A3 is still far too new to rate its reliability, and there is a certain element of the unknown around it. That said, it’ll be covered under manufacturer warranty until at least the middle of 2023. But the previous version had a decent reliability record – the biggest issues of concern surrounding the automatic gearbox and the MMI infotainment system.

Rivals

The premium hatchback class has few contenders, but between them they account for a large proportion of sales. Undoubtedly the closest contenders to the A3 are the Mercedes A-Class (the most popular) and the BMW 1 Series, though the mechanically similar Volkswagen Golf is worth looking at, too.

In terms of more non-premium options, the Seat Leon and Ford Focus are worth looking at.

Depreciation warning

As mentioned earlier, the new A3 is still too fresh to see how used values are holding up. However, with prices of its predecessor holding firm, and both the Audi brand and A3 remaining desirable, you can expect models to hold their value well. S line cars will likely continue to be the examples that buyers want the most, though.

Which A3 to Pick

Cheapest to Buy When New

30 TFSI Technik 5dr Sportback

Most MPG

35 TDI Sport 4dr S Tronic

Fastest Model (0-60)

35 TFSI Technik 5dr Sportback

Trims Explained

Five trim levels are available on the A3 – Technik, Sport, S line, Edition 1 and the top-spec Vorsprung. Equipment highlights and pricing are as follows.

‘Technik’

Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and air conditioning. However, it also comes with a 10.1-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a three-year subscription to a host of connected services, as well as a 10.25-inch digital cockpit. It also comes with cruise control, rear parking sensors, autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning.

Priced from £23,300

‘Sport’

This adds larger 17-inch alloy wheels, configurable drive modes and additional silver and chrome styling. You also get half leather seats, dual-zone climate control and electrically folding and auto-dimming mirrors.

Priced from £24,700

‘S line’

Popular S line models come with larger 18-inch alloy wheels, an S line body kit and upgraded LED lights, which at the rear feature scrolling indicators. It also comes with LED interior lighting, privacy glass, sports suspension and stainless-steel pedals.

Priced from £26,640

‘Edition 1’

Audi is also launching a special ‘Edition 1’ launch model. This features large 19-inch alloy wheels, clever Matrix LED headlights and a black styling pack. It also comes with electrically adjustable and heated front seats with memory front seats, Alcantara and leather upholstery and a larger 12.3-inch digital cockpit.

Priced from £31,455

‘Vorsprung’

At the top of the line-up, the Vorsprung comes with revised 19-inch alloy wheels, an electric tailgate, panoramic sunroof and Nappa leather upholstery. You also get keyless entry and start, carbon interior inserts, wireless phone charging and a Bang & Olufsen sound system. This trim also adds a host of safety kit – including a 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, traffic sign recognition and self-parking functionality.

Priced from £40,330

Summary

  1. Available as a five-door hatchback and saloon
  2. Audi’s most popular car in the UK
  3. Lots of standard kit
  4. Prices start from £23,300…
  5. which is exactly the same as the Volkswagen Golf
  6. Top-spec versions are far too expensive
  7. BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class are key rivals
  8. More enjoyable to drive than ever before
  9. High-quality interior
  10. A fantastic small premium family car

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