- Find out our pick of the range for company car drivers
- Petrol engine offers more power than 1.6 TDI diesel
- Entry-level SE trim offers the best value for money
The Audi A3 has long been a popular choice for many company car drivers as it offers competitive running costs, luxurious cabin quality and the four-ringed badge that would be the envy of many.
But which A3 is the best choice for a company car driver and which body style, trim and engine choice will offer the right balance of kit, practicality and driving fun while keeping tax costs to a minimum?
We take a look at the A3 range to find out.
Saloon or hatchback?
The A3 is available as either a three-door hatchback, Sportback (Audi's name for the five-door version), cabriolet or saloon.
For a company car driver we discount the three-door hatchback and cabriolet versions because of the higher emissions and price of the cabriolet and the reduced practicality of the hatchback.
There is little to separate the Saloon and Sportback when it comes to emissions and fuel economy. It really only comes down to the arguably sportier profile of the Sportback versus the extra practicality of the Saloon.
The Saloon does have a smaller boot opening which can prove a little tricky if you need to load bulky or tall items in the boot regularly, but the extra 45 litres of boot space over the Sportback’s 308 litres may be ideal for those with families.
The Saloon is significantly more costly than the Sportback, however. That's mainly down to the entry level SE trim not being available on the Saloon - instead the range starts at the pricier Sport trim.
Petrol vs Diesel
Although in previous years this would be an easy decision, petrol has been catching up when it comes to fuel economy and CO2 emissions and now, depending on the miles you drive, can offer a more cost-effective option than some diesels.
Let’s take a look at the two contenders.
The diesel choice would be the 1.6 TDI which produces 99g/km of CO2, placing the car within a 14 percent BIK tax band for the current tax year with average fuel consumption of 74mpg on the official combined cycle. But with only 103bhp on offer and a 0-62 time of 10.9 seconds it could be accused of being a little lacklustre.
When it comes to petrol engines, the 1.4 TSI is an impressive option especially if you opt for the Cylinder on Demand (or CoD) technology which shuts down two of the engine’s four cylinders when they are not needed to save fuel and reduce emissions. Headline figures for this engine include CO2 emissions of 112g/km and an official fuel economy of 58.9mpg which places the petrol in a 14 percent BIK tax band for this year, the same as the diesel. There is 138bhp at your disposal too which means a 0-62 time of 8.4 seconds.
Audi’s excellent S-Tronic gearbox will bring CO2 emissions down to 109g/km when coupled with the petrol engine meaning a 13 percent BIK tax band for the current tax year, and although this bumps up the P11D price of the car by around £1,500 monthly tax costs will actually be marginally lower.
The Sportback is available in three trims, SE, Sport and S-Line.
The entry level SE trim comes pretty well equipped with kit we would deem essential for company car drivers including Bluetooth, DAB Radio, a USB connection, manual air conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels, interior lighting, leather interior touches, start/stop technology, cruise control and eight speakers.
Sat-nav is available for £495 and heated seats for £260, both are worth considering and will impact your monthly tax bill very little.
We would go for the Audi A3 Sportback 1.4 TSI SE coupled with the S-Tronic gearbox. This car has a P11D value of £22,475 and adding to that the optional sat-nav and heated seats brings a total of £23,230. A BIK tax band of 13 percent means this car will cost a 20 percent taxpayer £50.33 a month in tax for the current tax year.
This car may not be as economical as the diesel option, which costs slightly less in tax depending on whether you opt for the S-Tronic automatic gearbox or not (£49.25 a month for the manual for a 20 percent taxpayer), but the diesel doesn't have the power or performance credentials of the petrol and we think that is worth the extra pound a month in tax.