Audi A3 (2012-present)

Smooth, solid and hi-tech: the Audi A3 is the ultimate upmarket family hatchback

Strengths & Weaknesses


High-quality interior
Quiet at speed


Expensive purchase price
Three-door is cramped in the back
Not as well-equipped as rivals

The Audi A3 is, to put it bluntly, a posh Volkswagen Golf. It shares mechanical parts with the VW family car, but has more of a luxury feel, with an even higher-quality interior than the none-too-shabby Golf.

The step up became bigger in June when an updated version of the A3 went on sale, which feels even better-made. Some of the controls have been simplified and you now have the option of more advanced technology that allows the Audi to drive itself in traffic jams, and a wide screen behind the steering wheel, displaying your choice of driving information, such as a giant sat-nav map.

Standard equipment includes Bluetooth to connect your phone wirelessly to the car, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which replicate your phone's display on the A3's 7in dashboard screen.

The equipment level, quality and Audi badge all add to the cost of the A3, which is around £3,000 more than an equivalent Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra. That price isn't everything , though. There are already some excellent new Audi A3 deals offering 10% off, and you're likely to get much of the cost back when you come to sell it because the A3 holds its value well. In fact, the three-door hatchback with a manual gearbox is expected to be worth 60% of its official new price after three years - more than most other cars sold in Britain. If you're financing an A3, this will help keep monthly costs down.

The A3 is also more expensive than the Seat Leon and Skoda Octavia, which it shares mechanical parts with - just like the VW Golf. But premium rivals, such as the BMW 1 Series, Mercedes A Class, and Lexus CT cost roughly the same.

None feel as well put together as the A3, which is also one of the most settled cars on the road, remaining steady, rather than bouncing over bumps in the road or leaning in corners. It doesn't feel as exciting or agile as the BMW 1 series when changing direction, though. Watch out for harder suspension on S line models that can feel uncomfortable on poorly-maintained roads.

Audi offers two bodystyles with the A3 hatchback: the three door, which comes with two side doors and a hatchback boot, as well as a five-door, which Audi calls the Sportback. As well having two more doors, it’s also a bit longer than the three-door, boosting legroom for rear-seat passengers. It's not cramped, but other family cars offer more space: adults will be more comfortable in the back of a VW Golf or Seat Leon, and considerably happier in a Volvo V40 or Vauxhall Astra.

Whether you choose a petrol or diesel engine. there are smooth and efficient options that help keep the car's running costs down. If your commute is short then the Audi A3 e-tron, which uses an electric motor and petrol engine, could cut your fuel costs to virtually zero. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Audi S3 and Audi RS3 glug petrol for more performance.

Euro NCAP, the independent safety body, gave the A3 its maximum five-star crash-test rating, with extremely good protection for adult and children occupants.

Last Updated 

Monday, September 5, 2016 - 13:30

Key facts 

Three years/60,000 miles
Boot size: 
3dr: 365 litres, 5dr Sportback: 380-litres
3dr: 1,777mm, 5dr Sportback: 1,785mm
3dr: 4,241mm, 5dr Sportback: 4,313mm
Tax (min to max): 
From A (Free) to G (£185 per year)

Best Audi A3 for... 

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron
With a big battery that can power the car's motor for 30 miles, you could run constantly on cheap electric power if your commute's short enough and you've got somewhere to plug the car in. A petrol engine propels the car on longer journeys.
Audi A3 Sportback 1.0 TFSI 115 SE
The 1-litre petrol engine might be the smallest engine, but it has plenty of power for the motorway. It's efficient and £2,000 cheaper than a diesel A3, making it cheap to run. SE has all the basic equipment you need but no built-in sat-nav.
Audi S3 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic
Just as practical as the standard Audi A3, the high-performance S3 will accelerate from 0-62mph in only 4.5sec if you pick the automatic model.
Audi A3 2.0 TFSI S line
It's expensive, with poor fuel economy compared with the rest of the range, and it's not that fast either. You'd do better with a more economical 1.4-litre car or the high performance S3. Hard suspension makes S line models more uncomfortable but you can swap it for softer suspension free of charge.

Audi A3 History 

  • September 2012 All-new A3 (three-door) and A3 Sportback (five-door) on sale in UK
  • February 2013 Revised 1.2-litre TFSI petrol engine & S3 hot hatch added
  • August 2013 Upgraded 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine added
  • July 2014 A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid joins range
  • May 2015 Extra-efficient ‘Ultra’ version of 1.6-litre TDI diesel joins range
  • June 2016 Audi A3 range updated with redesigned headlights, new technology and a 1-litre petrol engine

Understanding Audi A3 car names 

  • A3
  • Engine
    2.0 TDI 150
  • Driven wheels
  • Trim
    S line
  • Gearbox
    S tronic
  • Body style
  • Engine
    Audi’s turbocharged petrol engines are called ‘TFSI’, while the diesels are called ‘TDI’. Their size is given in litres (2-litres in this example). You may also see the engine's power quoted in horsepower.
  • Driven wheels
    Audi calls its four-wheel-drive system quattro.
  • Trim
    The A3 comes in four basic trim levels which start at SE, then go up through SE Technik and Sport to S line. The higher the trim level, the more equipment you'll get as standard - and the more you'll pay.
  • Gearbox
    S tronic is the name of the automatic gearbox that's available on the Audi A3.
  • Body style
    Five door Audi A3s are known as Sportbacks. There are four doors for passengers and the fifth is the hatchback boot, which opens up most of the rear of the car. There is also a three-door A3 (two passenger doors and a hatchback) as well as a saloon which has four passenger doors and a self-contained boot with a smaller opening.

Audi A3 Engines 

Petrol: 1.0 TFSI, 1.4 TFSI, 2.0 TFSI 190, 2.0 TFSI 310 Diesel: 1.6 TDI, 2.0 TDI 150, 2.0 TDI 184 Hybrid: 1.4 TFSI e-tron

There's a good argument for not even looking beyond the cheapest 1-litre petrol-engined version of the Audi A3. The official price starts at less than £20,000 before any Audi A3 deals are taken into account, and the engine provides steady, smooth acceleration all the way up to motorway speeds. There's enough power to accelerate rapidly between 50-70mph: a good test of its ability to overtake lorries on a faster road.

Official fuel consumption for the 1-litre engine, as tested in a laboratory, is 62.8mpg. In real world driving, you're likely to get closer to 50mpg. The same applies to the 1.4-litre TFSI engine, which has the same fuel economy figure. This is thanks to technology called Cylinder on Demand (you may see it written as CoD). When you're driving along at a steady speed, which requires little power, half of the engine shuts down to save fuel; you can't really feel it happening from inside the car. It feels a little faster than the 1-litre engine but there's not a dramatic difference.

The 190 horsepower 2-litre petrol engine brings faster acceleration and fuel economy that's 10mpg worse. It's also available with quattro four-wheel drive. But only the tuned 2.0-litre 310hp engine in the Audi S3 feels really sportscar quick, accelerating from 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds. The S3 comes with quattro as standard.

Much like the petrol range, the pick of the diesels is also the cheapest version. The 1.6-litre TDI is smooth and economical, which makes it exempt from road tax. It has an official mpg figure of 70.6mpg, when combined with the automatic gearbox, which is likely to drop to less than 60mpg in normal driving. For more power, you can buy a 2-litre diesel A3 with either 150hp or 184hp. These are still reasonably efficient, but focused more on providing effortless, flexible power and acceleration for swift motorway driving, overtaking and towing.

The e-tron plug-in hybrid version of the A3 also uses the 1.4-litre petrol engine, paired with an electric motor. Once its batteries have been fully charged, it can travel up to 30 miles before the petrol engine has to kick in, so if you use that capability to its fullest, you could see very impressive fuel economy figures indeed.


Fuel economy



Top speed

1.0 TFSI




0-62mph: 9.9sec


1.4 TFSI


60.1 - 62.8mpg


0-62mph: 8.2sec


2.0 TFSI 190


49.6mpg - 50.4mpg


0-62mph: 6.8sec


2.0 TFSI 310


40.4mpg - 44.1mpg


0-62mph: 4.6sec


1.4 TFSI e-tron




0-62mph: tbc


1.6 TDI




0-62mph: 10.7sec


2.0 TDI 150


64.2mpg - 70.6mpg


0-62mph: 8.3sec

133 - 145mph

2.0 TDI 184




0-62mph: 6.9sec

143 - 145mph


Audi A3 Trims 

SE, SE Technik, Sport, S line

The higher the trim level you choose, the more standard equipment will be fitted to your Audi A3. Most of the features are available as individual options too, so if you want the cheapest car fitted with top-of-the-range leather seats, you can pay for them.

Entry-level SE cars come with a 7in screen that you can easily control with voice commands or a dial next to your seat. There's Bluetooth for wirelessly connecting your phone and two USB ports. Also included are bright xenon headlights, cruise control, 16in alloy wheels, air conditioning and three sets of Isofix mounts for child seats: one in the front passenger seat (along with the ability to disable the airbag) and two in the rear seats.

There's no sat-nav as standard, but you do have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto software that replicates your smartphone screen on the display. You can then use your phone's map app to navigate: this will eat into your mobile data allowance.

SE Technik trim is only available with diesel engines and adds around £500 to the price. It includes a built-in sat-nav, better voice recognition software and rear parking sensors. 

Costing around £1,000 more than SE Technik cars, Audi A3 Sport models have sat-nav but not the parking sensors. Alloy wheels are bigger, at 17in. Inside, there are fabric sports seats and dual-zone climate control, which allows the front passengers to set an individual temperature for their half of the car. You've also got the full choice of the Audi A3 engine range.

It might be top of the standard range, but the Audi A3 S line is missing equipment such as keyless entry, which means that you never have to take the keyfob out of your pocket, parking sensors, electrically folding door mirrors and heated front seats, You'll have to pay extra for all of these features.

You do get lowered sport suspension, which is harder and more uncomfortable over bumps. You can replace it with the standard, softer, suspension free-of-charge. Outside, 18in alloy wheels are fitted, along with chunkier bumpers and a small spoiler that juts out over the rear screen. The seats are part leather and cloth, and the interior is illuminated with extra LED lights.

Audi sells equipment packs with a number of options that drivers might want. The Comfort and Sound Pack adds rear parking sensors, heated front seats and an upgraded Bang & Olufsen stereo to your A3. The Technology Pack Advanced includes the so-called virtual cockpit screen behind the steering wheel and a better sat-nav with a 3D map and a touchpad with handwriting recognition, so you can enter an address by tracing the letters with your finger.

The Driver Assistance Pack includes the technology that allows the car to accelerate, brake and steer itself on well-marked roads and in traffic jams. You'll still need to keep your hands on the wheel, though.

Audi A3 Reliability and warranty 

There are no major reliability worries with the Audi A3, but owners complaining of mysterious rattles pushed the car down to 81st position out of 150 in the 2016 Auto Express Driver Power satisfaction survey, far from the 27th place it achieved the previous year.

Audi's standard warranty for the A3 gurantees the car for three years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes sooner. Rivals like BMW have the same length of warranty, but without a mileage limit.

Used Audi A3 

Audis are sought-after, so the brand’s cars tend to have pretty strong used values. There are exceptions, though: the highly efficient 1.6-litre TDI Ultra diesel version of the A3, which was sold between 2015 and 2016, lost almost a fifth of its value after a year. This makes it a cheaper used buy, especially as it offers economcal driving.

If you're looking for a petrol-powered A3, then the now-discontinued 1.2-litre car is smooth and economical, but it's not cheap. Your best bet for a car costing under £10,000 is a 1.4-litre petrol model.

Prices below show typical BuyaCar discounts for our pick of new and used models. Scroll down further for the very latest new Audi A3 deals or search for all new and used Audi A3 offers.

List price

BuyaCar new

1 year old

2 years old

3 years old

Best for performance

Audi S3 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic












Best for families

Audi A3 Sportback 1.0 TFSI 115 SE












Best for economy

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron












*Closest similar model. Prices correct at time of publication