Audi A3 review (2013-2020)
The Audi A3 is a popular premium hatch that’s efficient, good to drive and has a classy feel
The Audi A3 has been one of the most popular small executive hatchbacks for a long time, but this generation’s time in the limelight is fading as more advanced rivals bring more technology and desirability to the segment. With the excellent BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class now leading the class, the A3 does feel a little dated.
The A3 is still a good all-rounder, however. Strong, efficient engines, stable, confidence-inspiring handling and the ever-appealing option of quattro four-wheel drive mean there’s a lot to like about Audi’s Volkswagen-Golf-related hatchback.
The Audi A3 is a handsome premium hatchback that shares its engineering platform, powertrains and technology with the Volkswagen Golf and VW group stablemates the SEAT Leon and Skoda Octavia. They’re all built on a shared MBQ platform, but the Audi A3’s price premium means it’s generally the most expensive of the bunch.
The A3 for sale currently is the third generation of a model first introduced in 1996. The car’s popularity has contributed to that long legacy, and more than half a million examples have been sold in the UK making it the nation’s most popular premium hatch.
The most recent model arrived at dealers in 2012 and was facelifted in 2016. One of the keys to its success is the extremely wide range of bodystyles and powertrains available.
The A3 range spans Saloon, Sportback and Cabriolet bodystyles combined with SE Technik, Sport, S line, Black Edition trims, plus high-performance S3 and RS 3 models at the top of the range.
There are eight engines available – five petrols and three diesels. The petrol range kicks off with the 30 TFSI, powered by the Volkswagen Group’s familiar 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder with 114bhp. The 35 TFSI gets another VW favourite, a 1.5-litre four-cylinder with 148bhp, while the 40 TFSI uses a two-litre four-cylinder with 187bhp.
There are 1.6 and two-litre diesels, with the former producing 114bhp in the 30 TDI and the latter producing 148bhp in the 35 TDI or 182bhp in the 40 TDI.
The line-up is available with varying combinations of six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch gearboxes, front and quattro four-wheel drive.
The S3 uses a high-performance derivative of the four-cylinder unit found in many Volkswagen Group performance cars, including the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R, SEAT Leon Cupra and Skoda Octavia vRS. Meanwhile, the RS3 uses a 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo in honour of Audi’s rally heritage.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Audi A3 is a popular premium hatch that’s efficient, good to drive and has a classy feel
- 2Engines, performance and driveLots of choice on offer for the pragmatic buyer, but there are also some serious performance versions of the A3.
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsAudi offers plug-in hybrid A3s to keep costs down, but watch out for expensive insurance on some models
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe exterior design of the A3 is stylish, if conservative, while the interior is class-leading in terms of quality
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe A3 is a useable choice, with more space inside than the previous car and a decent boot on all models
- 6Reliability and SafetyA3 has a five-star Euro NCAP rating, a wide range of electronic safety systems and competitive warranty offers.