Audi's A3 much more than just a posh Golf.
Audi carved out a niche building premium hatchbacks well before BMW and Mercedes-Benz caught up. The A3 remains a hugely popular choice, taking the best bits of the Volkswagen Golf and adding sharp looks, a more sophisticated interior and some upmarket, premium appeal. It’s popular because it’s good.
What is it?
The car that pretty much defines the compact premium class. Audi’s A3 brought posh to the hatchback marketplace and it’s been a huge hit since it was introduced. An enduring formula, Audi’s done very little to change it, other than making it ever more efficient and adding more and more equipment to it. The very best emit under 100g/km of CO2, meaning Band A2 for tax and €180 annually, though if tax avoidance isn’t so important there’s plenty choice from the extensive range.
What is it like?
From the entry 1.6-litre TDIs to the range-topping rapid S3 and RS 3 models, three-, and five-door hatches and the saloon, the A3 is defined as much by its neat exterior lines as it is by its beautiful interior. It might not excite at quite the level of some of its rivals, but there’s something deeply satisfying to the A3’s obvious quality that makes it so difficult to beat. Space isn’t overly generous in the back seats, but it’s a sacrifice that’s worth making.
Carzone verdict: 4.0/5
Both BMW and Mercedes-Benz make hatchbacks that are more engaging to drive, but the A3’s qualities shine through, making it a hugely desirable hatchback. It’s not as expensive as you might imagine either, with strong used values making financing a new one surprisingly cheap, while low tax on the diesels and small turbocharged petrol engines keep running costs low too. The five-door Sportback is the most practical, but any A3 is appealing, from an entry-level three-door to the range-topping RS 3. That’s why it’s so popular. Deservedly so.