Cost & verdict

Audi A3 Hatchback review

Manufacturer price from:£21,810
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Audi A3 Hatchback
Review continues below...
27 Jul 2017 09:00 | Last updated: 19 Sep 2018 10:49

In this review

Cost & verdict

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Audi A3 hatchback running costs

As you might expect, the A3 isn't exactly cheap, although it doesn’t cost much more than a Volkswagen Golf – and on many PCP and lease deals, the A3 can actually work out cheaper per month. And while the A3 can't match the Mercedes A-Class's excellent resale values, it will hold onto its value better than pretty much every other rival, including the BMW 1 Series.

Audi has used aluminium and high-strength steel to help keep weight down. These measures ensure that the A3’s fuel economy and CO2 emissions are comparable to those of its best rivals. The most efficient is the 1.6 diesel, pumping out as little as 103g/km of CO2. However, the punchier 2.0 TDI 150 only emits a few grams more of CO2 per kilometre, despite its extra power.

The 1.0 TFSI engine is the most efficient petrol engine and comes close to matching the diesel’s claimed fuel economy figures, while the e-tron variant brings the cost of running down even further. Its CO2 emissions are just 38g/km, and while you can take the claimed 166mpg with a pinch of salt, it's still reasonably frugal in real-world driving. It can also run on battery power alone for around 18 miles in real-world conditions.

Use our True MPG calculator and see what your car really does to the gallon

 

Audi A3 hatchback equipment

The A3 comes with a reasonable amount of standard equipment, but less than what you'd get in some rivals. For business users looking for the cheapest company car tax, we'd stick with entry-level SE Technik, because you'll find sat-nav, air-con, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth, xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights and cruise control included, so it's hardly spartan.

If you're buying privately, though, we'd recommend Sport trim. This gets a host of extra kit, including dual-zone climate control, sports seats and bigger 17in wheels. Next up is S line, although since it’s focused on sporty styling more than anything else, you’re mostly paying for design touches. With that in mind, we’d stick to Sport.

The high-performance S3 gets a bespoke bodykit, leather seats, heated front seats, LED headlights and a host of mechanical upgrades. Finally, at the top of the range, the RS3 adds 19in alloy wheels and high-grade nappa leather seat trim.

See how we'd spec an Audi A3

Audi A3 Hatchback

Audi A3 hatchback reliability

The A3 got three stars in our latest reliability survey and was ranked above average. Although the Golf and 1 Series beat it, the A3 ranked above the Volvo V40. Audi as a brand ranked 20th out of 31 manufacturers, above Mercedes but below BMW and VW – a decent but not outstanding result.

The A3 comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty and three years’ roadside assistance as standard. That’s par for the course, but some way short of the five-year cover offered by Hyundai and Toyota, and way behind the seven-year protection provided by Kia. You can pay extra to cover your A3 for up to five years or 90,000 miles for a reasonable price.

Audi A3 hatchback safety and security

All A3s come with seven airbags as standard, but it's disappointing that automatic emergency braking costs extra. Called Pre-sense Front, the optional system can apply the brakes and prime the safety kit if it detects an impending collision. It can even recognise pedestrians as well as cars. Other optional safety kit includes blindspot monitoring and reat cross traffic assist; the latter warns you of passing cars when you're reversing out onto a busy road and will even hit the brakes if it thinks you haven't spotted something about to cross your projected path.

The A3 received a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, with a strong 95% score for adult protection and 87% for child protection. The e-tron model went through the test in 2014 and was also awarded the maximum five stars, scoring 82% for adult protection and 78% for child protection. For context, the Golf scored 94% and 89% respectively.

An alarm and an engine immobiliser are standard on all A3s, and the car received the maximum five stars from security experts Thatcham Research for resistance to being stolen and four out of five for guarding against being broken into.

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Verdict

The Audi A3 is an outstanding all-rounder, although some rivals are better value for money

  • Strong and efficient engines
  • Beautifully finished interior
  • Excellent infotainment system
  • Fairly pricey to buy
  • Firm low-speed ride
  • Stingy standard equipment on cheaper trims
There are 7 trims available for the A3 hatchback. Click to see details.See all versions
SE Technik
This has a solid specification, including 16in alloy wheels, air-con, xenon headlights and a 7.0in infotainment system with sat-nav, DAB radio and Bluetooth. It’s a no-brainer if you're a company c...View trim
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OUR PICK
Sport
Upgrading from SE Technik to Sport brings 17in alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, front sports seats, aluminium exterior and interior trim and a sports leather steering wheel as standard. If...View trim
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£21,360
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S Line
S line trim is focused on sporty looks; you get even larger wheels (18in), a bodykit, LED headlights, part-leather upholstery and aluminium interior inlays. You get stiffer sports suspension as sta...View trim
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£23,354
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Black Edition
Based on S line trim, you get dark-coloured wheels and exterior trim, tinted rear windows and an upgraded stereo. It’s pricey, so we’d avoid it unless you’re sold on the looks...View trim
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£24,606
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S3
The high-performance S3 is a model in its own right, with a powerful 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine and acceleration times that wouldn’t disgrace many a supercar. It gets 18in alloy wheels, l...View trim
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S3 Black Edition
Adds a B&O Play premium sound system, rear privacy glass, black door mirrors and magnesium-look 18in alloy wheels, plus other styling upgrades to the standard S3 spec...View trim
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E-Tron
Available only in five-door Sportback form, the e-tron model is a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid. It’s really expensive on paper, although most owners will lease the car or use its incredibly low C...View trim
Fuel Petrol/Plug-In Elec Hybrid
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