The many faces of the Audi A3

  • We take a closer look at the many Audi A3 versions
  • Convertible through to hot hatchback
  • Plus what engines and trims to consider

The Audi A3 is a hugely popular car here in the UK and it’s not difficult to see why. It’s sophisticated, practical, refined and with a range of engines offering fun and frugal performance, it’s a great all-rounder. It has that four-ringed badge too, so you’ll be the envy of your neighbours.

Coming in a variety of different shapes and sizes, the A3 range has grown over recent years. For driving enthusiasts there’s the super-quick RS3 hot-hatch, if you prefer the wind in your hair then the A3 Cabriolet could be the car for you; or you may prefer the simplicity of the original three-door hatchback.

Here we take a look at the key players of the family and which engines and trims we would pick.

The original

When people say Audi A3, most of us will immediately think of hatchback and Sportback (five-door) versions. The latter is the most popular version of the A3 here in the UK.

Although we like the sportier looks of the three-door, we would go for the Sportback for the extra boot space and added practicality of rear doors. The premium for the Sportback model is only £700 too.

There’s a wide variety of engines available. The best in terms of running costs is the 108bhp 1.6-litre diesel Ultra which emits just 89g/km of CO2 and has an official combined figure of 83.1mpg. If you’re looking for a petrol city runabout, the 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre options more than fit the bill and if you’d like more performance, there are powerful 1.8-litre petrol and 2-litre diesel engines available too.

Trim-wise there’s four to choose from: SE, SE Technik, Sport and S-Line. We think SE Technik offers a good mix of kit for the price and comes equipped with 16-inch alloys, Bluetooth, sat-nav, DAB radio, voice control system, air-con, parking sensors and cruise control as standard.

Price range: £19,235 – £35,340

Star rating: 4.5 stars

Trim and engine choice: 1.6-litre TDI Ultra SE Technik

Click here to read our full review of the Audi A3 sportback 

Click here to read our full review of the Audi A3 hatchback

Click here to view the latest lease deals for the Audi A3 sportback 

Click here to view the latest lease deals for the Audi A3 hatchback


For summer sun

The latest generation A3 Cabriolet went on sale in the summer of 2014 and has already proved a big hit with retail customers thanks to its glamorous looks and high-quality interior. Although soft-tops are not renowned for their practicality, the A3 Cabriolet offers a decent sized boot of 320 litres, plus the roof can be opened and closed in 18 seconds and up to speeds of 31mph.

There’s a variety of engines on offer, but we’d pick the 1.4-litre petrol which offers a good balance of performance and low running costs and is fitted with the firm’s new ‘Cylinder on Demand’ (or CoD) technology which shuts down two of the engine’s four cylinders when not needed, thus helping to save fuel.

Official combined fuel economy is pegged at 56.5mpg and CO2 emissions are 116g/km which is impressive considering the engine offers 148bhp and 250Nm of torque which is enough to complete the 0-62mph sprint in 9.1 seconds. 

The Cabriolet follows a similar trim line-up as hatchback and sportback models with SE, Sport and S-Line available to choose from, we think Sport offers the right mix of kit with 17-inch alloys, a sports suspension, Audi Drive Select (allows you to choose between four different driving modes and adapts the throttle response, car set-up and steering to match),sports seats, DAB radio, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control and a fully insulated three-layered fabric roof included as standard.

Price range: £26,125 – £35,435

Star rating: 4 stars

Trim and engine choice: 1.4-litre CoD Sport

Click here to read our full review of the Audi A3 Cabriolet 

Click here to view the latest lease deals for the Audi A3 Cabriolet


The ultimate hot-hatch

Currently the quickest hot-hatch you can buy, the latest-generation RS3 went on sale just a few months ago and is available in Sportback guise only.

Under the bonnet lies a 2.5-litre petrol engine which produces a huge 362bhp and 465Nm of torque which enables the car to accelerate from 0-62mph in a staggering 4.3 seconds – a 0.3 second improvement over the previous RS3.

It’s far from cheap though and options are pricey to add too. Standard kit includes sporty features like 19-inch alloy wheels, Audi Drive Select, sports suspension, LED Lights, a RS3 specific front bumper, twin tailpipes and various RS badges throughout. Plus other luxuries like sat-nav, heated front seats, Bluetooth, parking sensors, a voice control system, dual-zone climate control and leather upholstery are also included.

Price: £39,995

Star rating: 4 stars

Click here to read our full review of the Audi RS3 sportback


The motorway cruiser

Although it’s been on sale since 2013, it wouldn’t be surprising if you’ve never seen an A3 Saloon on the road. It’s aimed primarily at Chinese and American markets where hatchbacks aren’t very popular.

The saloon is 150mm longer than the five-door sportback and as a result the cabin is larger and the boot has an extra 45 litres of space.

There are five engines to choose from and how many miles you’re planning to do and the type of journeys you’ll typically travel will govern your decision on whether you should go with petrol or diesel.

If you’re considering travelling on the motorway often, we think the lower-powered 2-litre diesel with 148bhp offers the best of both worlds, with enough power to accelerate the car from 0-62mph in a brisk 8.6 seconds while offering a combined fuel economy of 69mpg and CO2 emissions of just 107g/km keeping tax costs low.  

You get just two trim choices in the saloon – Sport or S Line – and the latter includes luxuries like 18-inch alloys, leather upholstery and impressive Xenon Plus headlights. For value for money though we’d opt for the £2,000 cheaper Sport model which comes very well-equipped with kit like Audi Drive Select, sports suspension, 17-inch alloys, Bluetooth, DAB radio, voice control system, sat-nav and dual-zone climate control as standard.

For those enthusiasts, like the cabriolet and hatch, there is a sporty S3 version also available which features sportier design touches and Audi’s Quattro four-wheel drive system for added grip. Under the bonnet of all S3 models is a 2-litre petrol engine with 296bhp and 380Nm of torque capable of accelerating the S3 saloon from 0-62mph in under five seconds.

Price range: £23,335 – £31,115

Star rating: 4 stars

Trim and engine choice: 2-litre 148bhp TDI Sport

Click here to read our full review of the Audi A3 saloon

Click here to read more on the performance S models in the Audi A3 range

Click here to view the latest lease deals for the Audi A3 Saloon

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