Audi A3 review

Category: Family car

Section: Costs & verdict

Available fuel types:hybrid, diesel, petrol
Available colours:
Audi A3 2021 infotainment
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  • Audi A3 2021 RHD dashboard
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  • Audi A3 2021 infotainment
  • Audi A3 2021 right panning
  • Audi A3 2021 steering wheel detail
  • Audi A3 2021 front seats
  • Audi A3 2021 left side, boot open
  • Audi A3 2021 boot open
RRP £23,795What Car? Target Price from£22,707
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Costs & verdict

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

The A3 carries a slight price premium over equivalent versions of the BMW 1 Series, but it's a little cheaper than the Mercedes A-Class. If you're a cash buyer, though, it should hold on to a much higher percentage of its list price after three years, which means its PCP finance deals tend to be more competitive. Check out our New Car Buying service for the latest offers.

Officially, the A3's engines deliver fuel economy and CO2 emissions in line with its rivals. However, the 35 TFSI petrol (with a manual gearbox) averaged a very respectable 42.5mpg in our real-world test – that’s a lot better than the BMW 118i. Unsurprisingly, the diesels are more efficient and they are RDE2 compliant, so company car users won't have to pay the 4% benefit-in-kind diesel surcharge. 

Company car users will find the 40 TFSIe hybrid even more tempting, though. Its 40-mile electric range and minuscule CO2 output place it in one of the lowest tax brackets. One word of warning, though: opting for an S line trim with bigger18in wheels moves it into a higher bracket than the Technik or Sport, so it's worth downgrading an S line17in rims, which are a no-cost option, and saving a fair chunk of change.

Equipment, options and extras

The entry-level Technik trim represents the best value overall, giving you cruise control, air-conditioning, power-folding door mirrors, 16in alloy wheels, auto lights and wipers, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. It also comes with the infotainment package, parking and safety aids we've already mentioned.

Go up to Sport and you get dual-zone climate control, a part-leather/ part-faux leather interior and 17in wheels. S line brings 18in alloys, privacy glass, dynamic indicators, sportier styling touches and front sports seats, while Vorsprung has every option ticked, but it is expensive.

Audi A3 2021 infotainment

Reliability

The A3 comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty and three years’ roadside assistance – basically on a par with the industry norm. And you can pay a little extra to extend your A3's cover for up to five years or 90,000 miles.

We’d be tempted to do so, because Audi doesn’t have a brilliant record when it comes to reliability; it finished 22th out of 31 brands in the 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey. That is way below BMW (and a lot of non-premium brands, such as Ford, Mazda and Skoda) but still above Mercedes.

Safety and security

Every model has automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane departure warning as standard. Blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and traffic sign recognition are optional.

The A3 received a five-star rating from Euro NCAP, although the Seat Leon was better at preventing injury to adults up front and children in the rear. Both cars were tested under stricter guidelines than the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class, and it's difficult to compare the results from the older tests with the recent, more stringent ones.

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Overview

There's no doubt the latest A3 isn't as well finished inside or as polished overall as the previous model, but it still rates well against the premium competition of the day, which includes the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class. The A3's comfortable, enjoyable to drive, has space for the family and a range of punchy petrol, diesel and hybrid engines. We recommend the 40 TFSIe for its electric range, low company car tax and performance. It’s one of the best plug-ins out there and a fine car in its own right.

  • Sharp handling
  • Excellent driving position
  • Strong and frugal engines, including the excellent plug-in hybrid
  • Interior quality is good but could be better
  • Fiddly infotainment system
  • Audi's unimpressive reliability record

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