Audi A3 Review
Audi's latest generation of their hugely popular A3 model is packed with more technology.
- Good choice of body styles to choose from
- Premium look and quality
- Increased range of engines
- A3 cabriolet has a lot of cabin noise
There was something missing from the Audi line up twenty years ago and when the manufacturer brought out the A3 they launched a new segment, the premium compact one. With a range that includes four different body styles: a three-door, five-door Sportback, Cabriolet and Saloon there is an A3 to suit all tastes and delivering on their success, the new third generation has been launched with more technology and new engine choices.
On the Road
The A3 now comes with a choice of six engines, three are petrol and three diesel. A new entry-level engine comes in the form of the three-cylinder 1.0-litre TFSI petrol which produces 116PS and 200 Nm of torque, while a punchy 1.5-litre delivers 150PS, has cylinder-on-demand technology and can reach 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds. The remaining petrol option is the 2.0 which has 190PS available with 320 Nm of torque for those wanting a bit more power.
The diesel range starts with the 1.6-litre 116PS engine, but the 2.0-litre TDI diesel comes with either 150PS or 184PS and a new seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission with wet clutch.
The new S3 will come with even more grunt with 310PS on tap and 400 Nm of torque.
With the A3 featuring an aluminium and steel body to make it lighter, it is still a safe car and the reduction in weight makes it agile, stable and good fun to drive. The sporty handling is firm, yet precise and in whichever iteration you drive it in, you can’t complain about its driving abilities.
The A3 also comes with Audi Drive Select which lets you make adjustments to cater the drive to be more comfortable or sporty.
There is something that can be said about refinement when it comes to Audi models, their engines are fairly quiet, unless it’s a stonking V10 and the cabin seems a pleasurable place to be with not a lot of intrusive noise as they’re always well insulated. Be careful though if you pick the cabriolet version, there is a lot of wind noise and it did sound at times like the rear window was open.
In the car
When you get behind the wheel of the Audi A3 it seems manufactured to a high standard and although the centre stack is laid out simply, it feels very premium.
Depending on your trim, seats are very comfortable and snug and although it’s a pet hate that on some specs you don’t get electronically adjustable seats, journeys won’t be a chore in an A3.
Audi have ramped up the technology in the A3, the super duper Virtual Cockpit is now available as an option, the 12.3-inch TFT screen does make the analogue system look very dated now.
There is a 7-inch display screen as standard on the A3, this cleverly conceals itself away in the centre stack and navigation, telephone connectivity, car settings and entertainment are all displayed on it operated by the MMI control dial.
Also as standard is the smartphone interface which lets you link up your phone to the car, the Audi Phone box lets you charge your phone on the go without the need for cables.
A new option, and a first for a car in the class is that Matrix LED headlights are available on the A3.
You don’t always think of the range the A3 has on offer as most people would think it’s just a hatchback and the three-door is likely to be a good option with decent cabin and boot room. The Sportback is for those looking for a bit more space as it adds 15-litres to the boot and more legroom and the saloon will tick the boxes for families as the boot size is increased to 390-litres, although leg room can be a bit limiting in the rear. It is a lot more spacious than the cabriolet though which will struggle to seat adults in the back, if they can actually get into the rear.
All styles have rear seats that fold flat to increase boot space but we’d definitely go for the practicality of the Sportback because it is a five-door.
The Audi A3 is priced from £21,810 for the 1.0-litre TFSI 115PS SE version, the Saloon starts at £23,530 and the Cabriolet is £29,685. All styles are available to order.
Combined fuel consumption figures range around the 50-60mpg mark for the petrol variants with the 1.6 TDI diesel able to get around the 70s with CO2 emissions at 106g/km.
The updated A3 Sportback e-tron emits just 38g/km of CO2 and is capable of 166mpg.
The Audi A3 will have strong residual values with the1.0-litre TFSI likely to retain 44% of its original price after 36 month/60,000 miles.
The quality of any Audi model is always high, cabins don’t seem to entertain any cheap plastics and materials used all seem to be durable with a high premium feel.
Audi A3 owners have heaped quite a lot of praise on the model, the Auto Express Driver Power survey last year saw the manufacturer come 6th for build quality and although it’s not entirely issue free, owners seem to be happy with the longevity of the car. It also took the accolade of World Car of the Year in 2014.
The Audi A3 and Sportback models took the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP ratings, with the three-door scoring 95% in adult occupant protection in 2012.
Audi have a whole host of safety technology on the A3 including Adaptive cruise control, Audi active lane assist, Traffic jam assist which can control, acceleration, braking and steering in slow moving traffic below 37mph, traffic sign recognition and rear parking sensors, which come as standard on the Cabriolet.