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- Top notch cabin
- Broad range of talents
- Better to drive than the old A3
- Looks a lot like the old car
- Some engines are a little slow
- Not the cheapest car in its class
Audi has been making beautifully built car cabins for yonks now, and the new A3 is a culmination of everything Audi has learnt about applying high quality parts to interiors. Though some may not be big fans of the minimalist approach to the design, there’s no denying that this is the best-built dash of any car in this class and price bracket.
But it’s not just all for show in here, though, as the stretched wheelbase over the previous A3 has liberated some much appreciated interior space, though people over six foot may still find it a bit cramped in the back. The boot has also had an increase in size, up 15 litres to an impressive 365, which puts it near the top of the class when it comes to practicality.
The overall dynamics for the old A3 were one of the car’s negative points from the perspective of the experts, and rather unsurprisingly, it’s here where quite a few changes have been made. Though the keenest of drivers may want to take a closer a look at the BMW 1 Series, the new A3 isn’t what you’d call ‘dull to drive’. Sure, it’s by no means the most entertaining car to come across, but the critics say it steers fairly well, there’s very good body control and grip.
The new A3 is also good under more relaxed driving scenarios – it’s easy to drive around town, the suspension seems to soak the bumps up fairly well and improved noise insulation makes this car a much better proposition on longer drives than the previous model was.
The A3's engine range has grown quickly in recent months - it kicks off with a 1.2 TFSI petrol, goes through a couple of different 1.4s, a 1.8 petrol, and 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesel variants.
All of them seem to be very good, with the larger of the petrol powerplants offering the most performance (until the S3 arrives). The 140 PS 1.4 TFSI is making headlines right now for its cylinder deactivation tech, which boosts economy to 60.1 mpg. The 1.6 and 2.0 TDI diesels are lauded too though - the former for its road tax exemption, the latter for its mix of performance and economy.
Value for money
From some aspects, it’s very easy to quickly denounce the new A3 as a car that can’t really be called a bargain. After all, it’s by no means the cheapest car in this segment, and the vast array of options you can specify have the potential to really bump up the price.
That said, you’re certainly paying for a car that’s been beautifully put together, and the pricing isn’t that far off what you’d pay for an equivalent BMW 1 Series. Residual values should also be very good, courtesy of the four overlapping rings mounted prominently on the front grille, and the efficiency figures (especially for the diesels) mean they shouldn’t be too expensive to run.
For the first time ever on an A3, you can specify the sportier trim levels without compromising the ride quality – Audi can swap out the firmer suspension on the SE and S-Line cars for the standard setup as a no cost option, so you don’t have to sacrifice a comfy ride by ticking the plusher trim boxes.
Though the dual-clutch S-Tronic gearbox seems to work really well, some of the critics would recommend the six speed manual over it – not only did some find a better match for the engines, but they also make the car noticeably more efficient than it would have been had it been specified with an auto.
If you need a little more space, you can get the A3 with five doors, Audi call it the A3 Sportback. There’s even an A3 saloon in the pipelines, set for late 2013, for those who want an executive Audi but can’t quite afford the A4.
For those wanting perfection after waiting nine years for a second-gen A3 replacement to arrive, the new car may be a disappointment. Though it does many things well, and sets the class standard in others, it’s by no means the top premium hatchback currently on sale.
But it’s still one of the top premium hatchbacks on the market, and there’s no denying that you’d have to spend a lot more cash to have a car with a better interior. If you’re looking for a plush, practical and appealing hatch, we reckon you should take a very close and detailed inspection of this very svelte new Audi.
- Price range:
- £17,905 - £28,165
- 40 - 74
- Safety rating (NCAP):
- Date released:
- Late 2012
- Replacement due:
- Not for many years
- Model history:
- This is the 3rd generation A3, codenamed the 8V
- Engine to go for:
- The new 1.4 TFSI with cylinder deactivation is a cracker - smooth, pokey and has 60 mpg potential. Both diesels offer excellent economy too
- Other variants:
- There's also the Audi A3 Sportback, which has 5 doors. An Audi A3 Saloon is coming out at the end of 2013.
- Engine naming:
- TDI engines are diesels, TFSI are petrols
AutoExpress review the brand new A3 in this useful video review. They show how much room there is inside, review the quality and what they think of the engines.
In this video Which? Magazine lets us know what they think of the A3
Official Audi video for the A3, showing some of the new and innovative features on it
Audi video showing a tour of the interior