Audi A3 Hatchback

Audi A3 Sportback review

Cost & verdict
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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 Sportback isn't exactly cheap compared to rivals such as the Skoda Octavia. It doesn’t cost much more than a Volkswagen Golf, though, and can actually work out cheaper per month on some PCP and lease deals. 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. Our favourite engine, the 148bhp 2.0-litre petrol (35 TFSI), can manage up to 43.5 mpg and 121g/km, while the 114bhp 1.0-litre can hit nearly 50mpg and emits as little as 114g/km. The 1.6-litre diesel is the most economical engine, but, if you're a company car user, don't forget you'll end up paying a four per cent surcharge on your benefit-in-kind tax.

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 you'll find in some rivals. For business users looking for the lowest company car tax, we'd stick with entry-level SE Technik; 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 you a host of extra kit, including dual-zone climate control, sports seats and bigger 17in wheels. Next up is S line for which, it being focused on sporty styling more than anything else, you’re paying mostly for design touches.

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

Audi didn't do too well in our most recent reliability survey. The brand came 20th out of 31 manufacturers, finishing below BMW, but above Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar. Individually the A3 Sportback itself rated average, finishing behind the 1 Series and VW Golf.

The A3 comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty and three years’ roadside assistance as standard. That’s decent enough compared with the industry norm, but it’s some way short of the five-year cover offered by Hyundai and Toyota, and far behind the seven-year protection provided by Kia.

You can pay a little extra to extend your A3 Sportback's cover for up to five years or 90,000 miles.

Audi A3 hatchback safety and security

All A3s come with seven airbags as standard, but it's disappointing that automatic emergency braking costs extra. Named Pre-sense Front, the optional system can apply the brakes and prime the car's safety kit for action if it detects an impending collision. It can even recognise pedestrians as well as cars. Other optional safety kit includes blindspot monitoring and rear 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 intended 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. That test was in 2012, though, so it's hard to compare it against newer cars, such as the Ford Focus (tested in 2018), that have undergone more stringent examinations. 

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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It's amazing to think that the Audi A3 Sportback is one of the oldest cars in its class, yet still proves to be an outstanding all-rounder. True, some rivals are better value for money, but in part the A3's additonal initial cost will be offset by the its strong resale values. The Mercedes A-Class runs the A3 close in many respects, but ultimately the A3 is still the pick of the premium family cars. If you're looking for practicality and aren't a badge snob, though, then the Skoda Octavia is both colossal and cheap.

  • 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 6 trims available for the A3 hatchback. Click to see details.See all versions
SE Technik
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Upgrading from SE Technik to Sport brings 17in alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control...View trim
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S Line
S line trim is focused on sporty looks; you get even larger wheels (18in), a bodykit, L...View trim
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Black Edition
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The high-performance S3 is a model in its own right, with a powerful 2.0-litre turbocha...View trim
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S3 Black Edition
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