Audi A3 Review
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Highly recommended. The styling is classy and the interior sets a new benchmark for the family hatchback. Find out more by reading our Audi A3 review
The Audi A3 has been around since 1996 and is now part of the landscape of British roads, but unbelievably this is only the third generation of the model – the second one went through so many facelifts.
The new model sees a transition – no longer the small, cheap practical hatchback of the Audi family – there are now smaller Audis performing that role. The new Audi A3 seems like a 'proper' Audi, so more than ever it will have to look and act like one if it's going to come up to snuff.
Thankfully, as our Audi A3 review reveals, it does just that, and in some style. The A3 may look a bit boring on screen here, but judging from our Audi A4 road test it feels like a genuine luxury car, with a cabin that looks fresh, yet simple and built from materials that just don't seem to be available to other manufacturers.
It doesn't spring any surprises – you can just about fit four adults in comfort, the boot isn't much roomier than before, and it still cannot match the personality of a BMW 1 Series – but in terms of quality and technology, it probably is now the clear leader of the family hatchback pack.
On the downside, Audi still can't make the A3 exciting to drive – the feel is too firm. That said, the A3 is comfier than it was, and the optional Audi Drive select makes a good fist of flitting the major variables (steering, throttle, suspension, gearing) between soft and hard - relaxation and engagement, in other words.
If the sense of quality is the major selling point in the A3, then running costs come a close second. The version everyone is likely to buy, the 141bhp 2.0-litre TDI, does close to 70mpg and will be cheap to tax, while feeling genuinely quick. Even the petrol versions are good on fuel economy (50mpg). There is also a 1.6-litre TDI on the way.
So, while you might look at the A3 and wonder what all the excitement is about, it's the type of car that does what the Golf does, but ratchets it up two notches: it's advanced, solid and classy without having to shout about it. You'll pretend you don't want to own one, but in truth, deep down, you do.
Next: ratings and breakdown
1. Interior quality and awesome MMI
2. Better handling and comfort than before
3. Running costs akin to a city car
We don't like:
1. High list prices
2. Unadventurous exterior styling
3. Middle lane hoggers
Best: 2.0-litre TDI S line Easy
Most fun: 1.4-litre TFSI S line
Worst: 1.8-TFSI SE