Still a leader in terms of image and quality
- Badge and brand appeal
- Strong residual values
- Wide range of trim and engines
- Expensive outright, better on PCP
- BMW 1-Series has better steering
- Adding options soon lifts the price
The Audi A3 Hatchback is one of the smarter looking medium family cars – and it attracts well-heeled buyers or company car drivers that don't want to draw too much attention to themselves.
Most people will buy an Audi A3 based mainly on the badge and, as a medium hatchback with excellent engines and sensible running costs (thanks to its strong residual values), it certainly ticks plenty of boxes.
This latest model is not only larger than the previous version (12mm wider and the wheelbase is up 23mm), but it also weighs 80kg less. Boot space has grown from 350 to 365 litres. The A3 design is understated, but it’s in line with newer models like the Audi A6 and Audi A4.
Audi A3: wide range of economical engines
The A3 hatchback is offered with four petrol engines and two diesels. Petrol units range from 1.2 to 1.8 litres, with the latter coming with the option of quattro four-wheel drive.
A recent addition to the range is a 1.4 TSI unit with Cylinder on Demand technology. This system, which raises the price of the A3 by £850, automatically shuts down two of the four cylinders when coasting or on light throttle inputs – the result is diesel-like fuel economy of 60.1mpg and CO2 emissions of 109g/km.
Diesel engine options, popular among company car drivers, are 1.6 and 2.0 TDI units offering 103bhp and 148bhp respectively. CO2 emissions are from 99g/km.
Audi A3 Equipment levels
Base models will start at around £18,000, but as you go up the trim levels you'll start to realise that owning an Audi doesn't come cheap. Plus, once you tick a few extra option boxes, the cost will soon add up.
Entry-level models are badged SE and come with air conditioning, DAB radio with the Audi Music Interface, voice control and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Sport models bring 17-inch alloys, aluminium interior trim, the Audi Drive Select system which alters the ride characteristics, and a sports chassis lowered by 15mm.
Higher-spec S Line models gain 18-inch wheels, part-leather interior and xenon headlights with LED running lights.
Premium level Black Edition trim adds privacy glass, special 18-inch wheels, black styling additions and an upgraded sound system to the standard kit list.
Of course, if you want more power then sporty S3 models are also available in two different trim levels. Spec the basic S3 trim and heated fine Nappa leather seats, upgraded sound system, lowered suspension and sportier progressive steering are all added as standard.
Moving up to S3 Black Edition adds unique 18-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, black styling pack and a Bang & Olufsen Sound System.
The Parkers Verdict
The Audi A3 has been around a while now, but don't even think of letting that put you off. It's a small hatch that oozes class, especially in the right trim/colour combination.
Some would say it doesn't drive as well as a BMW 1 Series, but in mitigation, it's a safe and predictable handler, as well as being surefooted and refined on the motorway. Ownership should be rewarding, especially when its strong resale value and excellent dealer support are taken into account.