The Audi A3 Sportback is a practical and comfortable small car that feels well built and has a great range of engines, but it’s expensive compared to similar models and high-tech options add significantly to its price
If you want a family car but also want style, decent practicality, efficient engines, high-tech features, something that’s easy to live with and has a badge that’ll impress your friends, then the Audi A3 Sportback should be on your shortlist.
Although it was released in 2013, an update in 2016 gave the A3 Sportback redesigned headlights, new bumpers and some extra infotainment technology inside. It’s a very smart looking car, with that bold grille and handsome profile, as well as the sharply angled headlights. You get a similar look on the other A3 models on sale – the A3 saloon with its traditional boot, the open-top A3 Cabriolet and the downright rapid S3 and RS3 performance models.
You’ll be impressed by the Audi A3 Sportback interior, where everything from the minimalist design to the materials and build quality surpasses the BMW 1 Series and the Mercedes A-Class. The highlight of the cabin is the optional Virtual Cockpit that replaces the old-fashioned speedo and rev-counter dials with a customisable digital screen that can show the satellite-navigation map, your Spotify playlist or just how fast you’re going. It’s an option you’ll want to have because it makes the Audi A3 Sportback feel cutting edge inside, but it doesn’t come cheap.
The Virtual Cockpit digital driver display looks awesome and makes following sat-nav directions easier and safer because you can keep your eyes on the road. You'll love it
The Audi A3 Sportback isn’t all show though – it’s practical and easy to live with, too. Front passengers get plenty of seat adjustment and a good view of the road ahead and behind. Adults sat in the rear will also be comfortable with enough head, leg and shoulder room. The pronounced hump in the floor means that it’s not that comfortable for carrying three adults at once in the back – a Mercedes A-Class is better for that – but the Audi is better for two.
Boot space is decent enough, and it has handy hooks and nets to hold items in place when driving. It also has a raisable boot floor that makes it easier to slide objects in and out by eliminating the height difference between the boot floor and boot opening.
The Audi A3 Sportback is comfortable and grippy to drive, and it has a range of great petrol and diesel engines – some of which are available with smooth, quick-shifting automatic gearboxes and Audi’s four-wheel-drive quattro system that gives the car even more grip on slippery roads. The 1.4-litre petrol engine with a manual or S tronic automatic gearbox is the best pick, but if you do lots of motorway miles then buy the 2.0-litre diesel with 150hp because it’s quick and smooth with good fuel economy.
It all sounds rather good, doesn’t it? That’s the thing – the Audi A3 Sportback is a fantastic do-it-all small family car with a desirable badge. It looks good and makes you feel great, and its only drawback is that there’s a bit less room in the back seats than in similarly priced SUVs, such as the Volkswagen Tiguan. The Audi A3 is safe too – it got a five-star rating when Euro NCAP tested it back in 2012, and it’s available with lots of safety kit, including a system that can automatically brake to help avoid low-speed collisions.