New Audi A3 vs used Audi A4: which is best?

You’re in the market for a top-notch Audi saloon, but do you go new with the handsome A3 or used with the more spacious A4?...

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Mark Pearson
15 Jun 2017 14:43 | Last updated: 12 Jul 2018 11:07

New Audi A3 vs used Audi A4 – driving

New Audi A3 vs used Audi A4: which is best?

With its punchy 2.0-litre 150 diesel engine, the A3 has plenty of oomph. Our favourite trim is Sport, but we’d take the time to deselect the sports suspension that comes with it, because this can be a little firm, while the standard suspension is a good balance between good bump and pothole absorption and neat handling. Speaking of corners, the A3 excels at them, with accurate steering and plenty of grip – it’s an agile performer.

The same can be said of the A4, too. We’d try to seek out a car equipped with the 2.0-litre diesel 190 engine, which brings excellent straight-line performance. It’s a fraction quicker in acceleration than the A3, even if it’s not quite as fast flat out, and it’s more economical on paper. It also handles well, being predictable in its behaviour and secure, if not quite as much fun as the A3. Likewise, we’d try to seek out a car in Sport trim but with the standard suspension selected.


New Audi A3 vs used Audi A4 – costs

New Audi A3 vs used Audi A4: which is best?

New, the A3 in our chosen trim will cost £27,150, but our Target Price team reckon you can pick one up for £25,046. A one-year-old A4 in our chosen trim will cost you around £24,450, a substantial saving on its new price of £35,245. Remember that the A4 will have lost that heavy first year’s depreciation, while the A3 still has that to come.

Both cars have an excellent reliability record. The A3 actually scored a perfect 100% in our most recent reliability survey, albeit in petrol form. The diesel version of the car scored a still impressive 74%, which is more or less the same as the diesel A4. Audi as a brand came in 12th place out of 32 manufacturers, with an overall score of 80%.

The two cars come with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty from new, meaning our A4 here would have only two years of that cover left. The A4 is the larger car and has the more powerful engine, but is in fact the more economical of the two – at least on paper. According to the official figures, the A3 claims 67.3mpg, while the A4 trumps that with 70.6mpg in this S tronic guise. Tax for both will be charged at the same flat rate, and both cars fall below the £40,000 new price barrier that marks out the luxury car tax surcharge.


New Audi A3 vs used Audi A4: which is best?