In-depth reviews

Audi A3 Sportback review - Reliability and Safety

A five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating and excellent Driver Power showing make the A3 Sportback an attractive proposition

The Audi A3 finished an impressive 27th out of 200 cars in our Driver Power 2015 satisfaction survey – way ahead of the Mk2 version, which came 180th. That made the car the third-highest ranking Audi in the poll; only the Q3 (14th) and the A5 Sportback (26th) finished higher in the chart. Unsurprisingly, the A3 Sportback’s highest category score came in the build quality section of the survey; owners ranked it a superb sixth here.  

The MQB chassis underpinning the car is used widely in other VW Group models, where it has proven reliable. The same goes for the engines, which have no known weaknesses – although the recent emissions scandal will have tarnished Audi’s brand image in the eyes of some consumers. 

Euro NCAP awarded the Audi A3 a full five-star rating in its independent crash tests, and there’s a whole raft of safety systems to help prevent accidents. These include a lane departure warning system, optional adaptive cruise control, hill-hold assist, and a ‘Pre-Sense’ programme that tensions the seatbelts and closes the windows if the car enters a skid. There’s even an optional self-parking system to ease the A3 Sportback into tight spaces.

Warranty

Audi supplies the car with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, which includes unlimited mileage cover for the first 24 months. The 60,000-mile cap takes effect in year three. If you want to extend the warranty to either four years and 75,000 miles (capped in years three and four), or five years and 90,000 miles (capped for the final 36 months of the warranty), Audi will charge you £245 or £545 respectively. 

The advanced lithium-ion battery on the e-tron model comes with its own, separate eight-year/100,000-mile manufacturer cover. However, one caveat is that Audi will not replace the unit within the warranty period if its capacity degrades by between 10 and 30 per cent, as the manufacturer says this is normal wear. 

Servicing

The A3 Sportback is now available with fixed-price service deals such as Audi Complete, which should help to keep maintenance bills in check. Depending on how you drive it, the company recommends two service schedules: if you cover less than 10,000 miles a year and do lots of shorter journeys, it says the car will need a minor check every 9,000 miles or 12 months and a major service every 19,000 miles or 24 months. Drive more than 10,000 miles with lots of motorway use, and a flexible maintenance programme is brought to bear.

One note of caution about the A3 Sportback e-tron: it’s not sold or maintained by every dealer in the Audi network. Only 34 specialist centres across the country are set up to handle the plug-in hybrid, so check carefully that you live close to one of these before placing your order – or at least keep in mind that you may need to travel.

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    30 TFSI 116 SE Technik 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £21,840

Most Economical

  • Name
    40 TFSI e Sport 5dr S Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £32,345

Fastest

  • Name
    35 TDI SE Technik 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £25,440

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