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Audi A3 Hatchback engines, drive and performance

2012 - 2018 (change model)
Performance rating: 4 out of 54.0

Written by Richard Aucock Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 22 June 2022

From launch the Audi A3 gets three reworked engines including a 1.4-litre TFSI producing 121bhp, a 1.8-litre TFSI with 178bhp and a 2.0-litre TDI with a power output of 141bhp.

Choice of petrol engines

The lower-powered 121bhp 1.4-litre TFSI petrol can get from zero to 62mph in 9.3 seconds and has a top speed of 126mph. With 200Nm of pulling power overtaking on B-roads needs to be well planned in advance but this version of the A3 is comfortable at motorway speeds.

The more powerful 178bhp 1.8-litre petrol engine can complete the benchmark sprint in 7.2 seconds and has a top speed of 144mph.

Diesel engine and choice of gearboxes

The 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel is no slouch either. It can get from zero to 62mph in 8.6 seconds and has a top speed of 134mph. It has 320Nm of pulling power making overtaking manoeuvres a breeze.

All the engines are mated to a smooth-shifting six-speed manual gearbox, except the 178bhp 1.8 TFSI that has Audi’s seven-speed S Tronic semi-automatic gearbox. Across the range Audi A3 performance is good.


Audi has made a very good car and enthusiasts will be pleased but the BMW 1 Series still has the edge because the steering feel and the weighting of the steering wheel is better.

Apart from that the A3 is a cracking proposition. B-road jaunts are enjoyable thanks to the excellent grip levels while enthusiasts will be pleased with the absence of body lean when cornering.