Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0
  • Diesel engine is the sweet spot
  • Manual gearbox very good
  • Petrols smooth and quiet

Good news on the engine front - all of them are good. Easy to wrap your head around too - there are two petrols and two diesels. The diesels are slightly more economical, while the petrols are quieter and more refined.

Diesels get a bit of a bad name in this day and age, but there's definitely a time and place for them. The A3 with a diesel engine will really suit someone who covers mostly motorway miles.

Audi A3 Saloon side

The engine range:

30 TFSI petrol - 110hp, 0-60mph 10.6 seconds
35 TFSI petrol - 150hp, 0-60mph 8.7 seconds
30 TDI diesel - 115hp, 0-60mph 10.1 seconds
35 TDI diesel - 150hp, 0-60mph 8.3 seconds

The 30 TFSI is a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, while the 35 TFSI is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol.

Both diesels are 2.0-litres, just with different power outputs.

Suffice to say, the more powerful engines are more expensive than the less powerful engines.

Company car drivers, take note. The A3's diesels aren't RDE2 compliant, meaning you'll pay a 4% surcharge.

Efficient diesel engines

The 30TDI is the cheapest diesel on offer. If you cover mostly motorway miles, it's just about powerful enough for the daily cruise..

We'd recommend going for the 35TDI. The MPG is the same as the lesser model, but it's usefully quicker. This version doesn't come with the manual option, however, the seven speed auto is smooth and rarely confused. Overtaking is a doddle - you can really feel the power kick in from next to no rpm.

These engines aren't overly loud on the move, but at start up there is a bit of diesel grumble.

Quiet and smooth petrol power

The petrol range mirrors the diesel's in that there are two options, and we'd recommend the more powerful, more expensive one.

The 30TFSI has just enough power not to be a nuisance. Or the perfect amount if you rarely trapse up and down Britain at 70mph.

While the 35TFSI is usefully quicker and just that bit smoother under hard acceleration.

Audi A3 Saloon front

How does it handle?

  • Very easy to drive
  • Direct steering
  • Suspension depends on engine

The steering of the Audi is direct, meaning there's very little slack in turning the wheel. Make a minor adjustment to the wheel and there's a minor adjustment to the steering, make a major get it.

This is brilliant for two reasons. It makes the Audi superbly easy to place, making your driving more accurate. And it also makes the A3 enjoyable to drive. You get a very positive feeling from the saloon down a winding road - even in the less powerful versions.

Audi A3 Saloon dynamic

Suspension setup changes on which model you go for. Versions with less than 150hp get a simpler set up, while cars with 150hp or more get a more advanced multi-link rear suspension.

We won't bore you, but we reckon it's worth the extra money. It gives slightly more stability round corners, especially at a fast-ish speed.

All models (except for the base model Sport) get a Drive Select function. There are four or five pre-set modes depending on the engine. Each one changes the power steering feel, throttle response, and the ferocity of gear changes on automatic versions. Dynamic mode offers the most direct steering. But comfort is the mode most people will find the best to use.