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Audi A3 Review

8 / 10
2 November 2023

The Audi A3 will make you feel much more special than a Volkswagen Golf – it’s more expensive, but it’s worth it.

What we like:
  • Premium, spacious interior
  • Good balance of sportiness and comfort
  • Strong residual values keep monthly payments low
What we don't like:
  • Small boot in hybrid models
  • More tyre noise than rivals
  • Performance versions expensive

Should I buy an Audi A3?

If you’ll forgive us comparing cars to pizza, the Volkswagen Golf is a bit like a supermarket own-brand margherita pizza, and the Audi A3 is like the branded four-cheese stuffed-crust version. Both use broadly the same ingredients, but the stuffed-crust Audi has just a little more appeal and a slightly improved taste. And, to stretch this analogy thinner than freshly spun dough, a used Audi A3 is like a pizza that’s on special offer – monthly payments are roughly the same for a used A3 as they are for a used VW Golf.

Which, if you’re looking at both cars, makes the A3 a bit of a no-brainer. Its interior is both more premium and easier to use than the Golf’s, and you get a broader choice of trim levels to pick.

Before you settle on the A3, you'll no doubt also consider the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class. The BMW is a little more sporty than the A3 and the Mercedes is the most comfortable of the three, but the A3 strikes a good balance between the two. If you’re going to be carrying adult passengers regularly, the A3 is the best of the bunch, too.

Also read: Top 10 Audi A3 alternatives

Interior and technology

There are clear similarities between the Audi A3’s interior and the brand’s more expensive models. Even the entry-level model boasts a large touchscreen and a fully digital instrument cluster. Technophiles will love it. But Audi hasn’t made you use the screen for climate controls, which we like – its physical buttons are much easier to use on the move than the Golf’s touch-sensitive temperature sliders.

And, like Audi’s bigger, costlier cars, the A3 feels like it’s been well built with quality materials. The A-Class, in comparison, feels a little flimsy in places, but there’s none of that in the A3. There’s cool metal trim and soft leather in all the areas you’ll touch, and no squeaks or rattles to be heard.


The Audi A3 is definitely boxier than the A-Class and 1 Series, and that gives you more interior space in a similar footprint. So, while the Mercedes and BMW are a bit of a squeeze for adults in the back seats, the Audi has a bit more room for you and your mates. Travelling five-up is more comfortable than in its rivals, but you still wouldn’t want to be sat between two other adults back there for long journeys.

Its 380-litre boot has remained the same size for a decade, but it’s still competitive if not ultimately class leading. The A3 is also available as a saloon, which has a bigger 425-litre boot but a smaller boot opening, while both body styles offer less boot space than these figures if you choose the plug-in hybrid or the high-performance S3 and RS3 versions.

Engines and performance

Whether you want petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid power, the Audi A3 has you covered. A little surprisingly for a premium car, the range starts with a 1.0-litre petrol engine with 110hp – some way off the 136hp entry-level engine in the Mercedes A-Class. This engine, badged 30 TFSI, offers the lowest insurance group rating and adequate performance, but we’d recommend the 35 TFSI instead – a 1.5-litre petrol with 150hp – for extra performance and high-speed refinement.

High-mileage drivers are well suited by the 2.0-litre diesel engines, which get TDI badges and similar power outputs to the petrol engines. Both diesels return over 60mpg when driven carefully.

If you spend more time in town than on the motorway network, the plug-in hybrid will be a better option. Capable of nearly 40 miles of electric-only driving from a full battery, the 40 TFSI e hybrid enables you to switch between electric and petrol power at the push of a button – or save the battery power for later in your journey if you’re heading towards a town or city.

If you don’t particularly fancy saving fuel and want to use a fair bit of it going very, very fast instead, Audi’s S3 and RS3 hot hatches are just the ticket. With four-wheel drive, both are supremely capable in a straight line and through fast corners.

Driving and comfort

Maybe some days you take the easy motorway route home from the office, and other days you take the more engaging scenic route home. The Audi A3 has both bases covered – the A-Class might be fractionally more comfortable and the 1 Series has slightly more involving handling, but the A3 is a great all-rounder. It’s both comfortable enough and fun enough to keep most drivers happy.

Choosing a high-spec car with sports suspension and big wheels only firms up the ride a little bit – S Line and Edition 1 cars are still comfortable over the majority of road surfaces.

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Review for Volkswagen Golf


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The VW Golf is an efficient and premium-feeling family hatchback

Review for BMW 1 Series

BMW1 Series

8 / 10

Sharp handling and a posh cabin – the BMW 1 Series gets a lot right

Review for Mercedes-Benz A Class

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8 / 10

The A-Class packs quality into a compact, city-friendly body