What's the used Audi A3 hatchback like?
To say we liked the previous version of the Audi A3, which ran from 2013 to 2020, would rank as the understatement of the year. We loved it, mostly for its all-round excellence and sheer class, indeed so much did we admire it that not only did it win our overall What Car? Car of the Year award when it was launched, it also went on to carry off our overall Used Car of the Year title in 2019.
This latest version only adds to the appeal. Being careful not to mess with a successful formula, it's very clearly an evolution of the previous generation car rather than a radical overhauling of it, both in terms of its styling and design and also of what lies underneath the bodywork.
On the road, the 30 TFSI is great if you don't tend to travel with the car loaded up and mainly potter around town. It'll tackle motorways but you need to rev it out and drop gears more often than you would with the 35 TFSI. With 1.5 litres and 148bhp, it's gutsier, pulling handsomely from around 2000rpm and spinning freely all the way to the engine's red line. The 45 TFSIe is punchy, with the 201bhp from the petrol engine and electric motor working together, 0-62mph takes just 7.6sec. Performance is slower but still satisfactory in electric-only mode, and officially it will do up to 40 miles on a charge.
Meanwhile, the entry-level 114bhp 30 TDI diesel needs to be worked quite hard if you want to make good progress, while the 148bhp 35 TDI is noticeably stronger and proves particularly relaxed on motorway runs.
All of the A3’s engines are impressively quiet most of the time. The fact that you need to work the 30 TFSI petrol and 30 TDI diesel harder than the more powerful alternatives makes them a tad noisier, though.
Technik and Sport trims have smaller wheels and softer suspension so, unsurprisingly, they ride the best. S line trim and above have a lower, stiffer set-up and bigger wheels but, even so, cushion the bumps well most of the time. The A3 handles predictably, too, securely and engagingly in all versions.
The A3 compares well with its rivals for showroom appeal and the materials employed are generally fine. It isn’t the best, though. The dashboard’s prominent plastic ledge isn't particularly appealing when you touch it, plus there are some cheaper-feeling materials around the centre console and lower down on the doors.
There’s more than enough leg and shoulder room for tall adults up front. In the rear, anyone over six feet tall won’t exactly be sprawling out in luxury, but neither will they be packed in with their knees tucked up under their chin. The A3's tailgate opening is a decent size and the square space it reveals is similar in size to its main rivals in this class – it can fit five carry-on suitcases under its parcel shelf.
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