Audi A3 Sportback review (2003-2012)

Our Rating: 
2003-2012 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

Five-door Audi A3 Sportback is larger than the standard three-door model, and gets unique styling

Quality interior, impressive diesel engines, strong used values
Will be replaced in 2012, firm suspension, ###

The five-door Audi A3 Sportback gets a different look to the three-door model, that creates more space inside. It's longer and taller than the standard A3, plus there's silver roof rails and a more steeply raked boot lid. However, the A3 isn't exactly the newest car on the block, and the family will be replaced early in 2012 with a brand new range of cars.

Our choice: Audi A3 Sportback 1.4 TFSI

Engines, performance and drive


The Audi A3 Sportback has a wide range of engines, from a fuel efficient 1.2-litre turbo and supercharged unit, to a powerful 2.0-litre turbo. Diesels comprise a 1.6-litre offering 69mpg, and two 2.0-litre units with 140bhp and 170bhp. There's the option of front or four-wheel drive, too. All models are sporty to drive, with secure and stable handling, particularly if you pick a car with quattro four-wheel drive. S line models have the sharpest handling, although the stiff suspension can be uncomfortable on bumpy roads.

MPG, CO2 and running costs


The 1.6 TDI diesel is a star performer when it comes to low running costs. It's capable of returning up to 69mpg, while emissions of 109g/km mean it's road tax exempt for the first year. Because the A3 is such a desirable and well made car, residual values are strong, so it will be worth more than rivals when it comes time to sell it on. Servicing costs are reasonable, but watch out for the price of parts. Fixing high performance versions of this car can be a costly excercise.

Interior, design and technology


The chiselled looks of the Audi A3 Sportback still look fresh, despite the fact that this car will be replaced by an all-new model in 2012. It's equally as appealing inside, with a beautifully finished five-seat cabin that should easily stand up to the rigours of family life. Boot space is OK, at 370 litres, while rear seats are just about big enough for two adults. A generous options list includes leather sports seats, sat-nav and driving aids like cruise control.

Practicality, comfort and boot space


The Audi A3 Sportback offers 350 litres of boot space, while split and fold rear seats drop to create a much larger 1,120-litre load area. The hatchback boot opens wide for easy access. Cabin stowage is less generous than rivals like the Volkswagen Golf, but is still reasonable.

Reliability and Safety


There are three, three-point seatbelts in the rear, plus airbags front and rear, while all models in the range come with electronic stability control as standard. It received a four-star Euro NCAP rating when it was tested in 2003. Build quality is first rate, as is reliability. The car regularly finishes in the top 20 of our annual Driver Power satisfaction survey.

Last updated: 5 May, 2012