The Audi A3 won the What Car? Car of the Year award in 2013, and it performs so well in its class that its rivals are still scrabbling to make up the difference.
With a long – and still growing – list of competitors, the A3’s impressive mix of comfort, quality and pleasantness to drive keeps it consistently atop the premium hatchback pile, ahead of the BMW 1 Series, Mercedes A-Class, Infiniti Q30 and more.
There are many reasons to buy an Audi A3 if you’re in the market for a plush hatchback, but we’ve boiled them down to just ten.
10 Reasons to buy an Audi A3
Out front, the visibility from the A3 is as good as you could ask for. Things take a dip at the rear, but there’s plenty of optional kit to ensure that your bumpers remain undented when navigating into and out of tight parking spaces.
9. Running costs
Despite the high buying price, running costs for the A3 are impressively low; stop-start and weight-saving measures such as the use of aluminium and high-strength steelin the structure all help reduce the fuel consumption and emissions. Go for the 1.6-litre diesel if you’re after the most frugal one.
8. Generously equipped
There’s air-con, 16in alloys, Bluetooth, LED daytime running lights, Apple CarPlay and cruise control even in bottom-rung SE trim. In fact, it's the spec we’d go for, with rear parking sensors and sat-nav ticked on the optional extras list.
7. Safety kit as standard
There’s a decent amount of safety equipment included from the bottom-spec A3 upwards, with stability control and a pop-up, pedestrian-friendly bonnet on the SE. There’s a five-star crash test rating from Euro NCAP to put your mind at ease, too.
The majority of the A3’s functions are controlled via Audi’s Multi Media Interface (MMI), which isn’t quite as good as BMW’s iDrive but is a worthy second. The technology package adds sat-nav and a touch function to the MMI system, which allows you to write letters on top of the rotary dial that controls the MMI system.
5. Respectable handling
The A3 is grippy through corners, with little body roll around tighter bends. There’s not an abundance of feedback through the steering wheel but its precision and comfortable weighting make up for it.
4. Comfortable driving
Disregard Audi’s expensive Magnetic Ride system – the A3 rides perfectly well without it. There’s a lot of adjustment range in the steering wheel and driver’s seat, so there’s no doubt you’ll find a perfectly comfortable driving position.
3. Engine range
The A3 benefits from a strong range of engines, although the 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol is our favourite. It can turn off two of its cylinders in order to save fuel but is as punchy as you need it to be upon request. There’s a plug-in hybrid, badged e-tron, too.
2. Interior quality
The A3’s interior is one of its big strong points, quite literally. Everything is well screwed together and hewn from plush materials. Where rivals cheekily use hard plastics in less frequently touched areas, the Audi’s interior avoids this. Even the switches feel perfectly weighted and plush.
1. Quiet cabin
Providing you avoid the larger alloy wheels, the cabin is one of the quietest in its class. The 1.4-litre petrol engine is the smoothest of the bunch, although the diesels aren’t far behind. The star of the show in this respect is the e-tron plug-in hybrid. It’s almost silent when operating on electric power alone, without even the familiar whine of other hybrids’ electric motors.
What about buying used?
The previous-generation A3, like the current-gen car, is more expensive than the Volkswagen Golf but doesn’t offer a huge amount more. It also holds its value quite well – which is bad news for second-hand buyers.
Some owners have reported issues with the S-tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission. Be aware that the 3.2-litre A3 was a thief magnet, so insurers usually insist on a tracking device being fitted.
You’ll pay around £8500 for a decent 2010 example with around 50,000 miles on the clock, in a variety of different engine specifications. As with all used buys, a thorough test drive is advised.
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