Will my automatic Audi A3 suffer gearbox problems?
A reader has the opportunity to buy her company car but is concerned that its dual-clutch automatic gearbox could be prone to problems...
I have the opportunity to buy my 2014 Audi A3 company car, which I’ve had since new and only has 39,000 miles on the clock. I’m due to retire next year, so I’m trying to work out if it’s a good idea or not.
However, I’ve been told that at the five-plus-year mark, plenty of cars like mine, with a DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox, develop serious problems that often result in the entire gearbox needing to be replaced. This wouldn’t make my car a good buy. Please can you tell me if DSG gearbox problems are common?
What Car? says...
According to our latest Reliability Survey, the current Audi A3 is a highly dependable car; petrol models scored 96.8% and diesel models scored 96.6%, with only 1% of owners reporting issues with the gearbox. The previous-generation (2003-2013) A3 appears to have more gearbox problems; 15% of owners reported a problem in this area. However, your car is the current model, so it shouldn’t prove problematic.
We also contacted motoring association Motoreasy, which has analysed more than 40,000 years' worth of extended warranty data. Its findings concurred with ours: the cars that suffer DSG gearbox problems are generally older, higher-mileage examples that have had a hard life and been driven aggressively.
According to Motoreasy, although official Audi A3 DSG gearbox repair prices are quoted at up to £6000, it usually gets cars repaired for closer to £3000, and the cost of repairs is covered under its Plan A and Plan B warranties, which cover wear and tear items such as gearboxes.
Your A3 sounds like it has been well looked after, not clocked up a massive mileage and been owned by you from new, so we think it’s unlikely to suffer gearbox problems. That means we think it would make a great buy.
You can use our valuation tool to find out if the price that’s being asked for the car is a true reflection of its value.
Best family cars - and the ones to avoid
However, that doesn’t mean the family car market is dead; it still accounts for a huge number of sales and is very competitive, so there are some great buys out there.
But what makes a good family car? Well, it has to be practical, cheap to run, good to drive, well equipped and good value for money; in other words, it needs to be good at everything. Here we count down the top 10 and reveal the models that are best to steer clear of.
10. BMW i3
The BMW i3 is an electric family car that uses super-light carbonfibre and aluminium to offset the weight of the battery pack that’s mounted beneath its floor, while a smart interior and great handling add further to its appeal.
In addition to the fully electric model, BMW offers a range-extender version with a two-cylinder petrol engine that acts as a generator to prevent the car's batteries from running flat.
9. BMW 1 Series
A more conventional option from BMW is the 1 Series, which offers a strong combination of performance, fuel economy and CO2 emissions.
It’s still a little unusual in that it sends its power to the rear wheels rather than the fronts, but this makes it entertaining to drive, and ride comfort is also good.
Pick of the range: 118i SE
8. Honda Civic
The latest Honda Civic is good to drive and has plenty of space inside for your family and their luggage. Add to that an impressive array of standard safety equipment and it's easy to recommend as an all-rounder.
We'd recommend teaming the frugal 1.0-litre petrol engine with mid-range SR trim for the best combination of economy and equipment.
Pick of the range: 1.0 VTEC SR
Read our full Honda Civic review, see our latest deals or see our leasing offers
Best family cars 2021
What makes a good family hatchback and which models should you be considering? Here we count down the top 10 – and reveal the one to avoid
Audi A3 Sportback long-term test review
The Audi A3 has long set the benchmark for premium family hatchbacks, and now there's an all-new version on sale. We have four months to find out if it retains its crown