The Audi A3 was one of the first premium badged hatchbacks to really make an impact in the UK car market. It’s become a firm favourite among buyers wanting a blend of refinement, quality and affordable running costs, all wrapped up into a practical compact package.
The Sportback estate is arguably the best all-rounder, improved even further now the A3 range has had a facelift to keep up with rivals. We’ve narrowed down the five best alternatives to the A3 Sportback to give you a better idea of what’s available. Our handy car chooser can help you find even more rivals, too.
The Mercedes A-Class is another premium hatchback that directly rivals the A3. It too is a front-wheel drive model and comes with a range of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. Need even more firepower? Check out the fiery A45 AMG that competes with the Audi RS3.
Inside, the A-Class offers a high-quality cabin that’s a cut above many mainstream rivals, though Mercedes’ COMAND infotainment system is noticeably less polished than Audi’s MMI system. Practicality is a little limited too but, if you’re swung by the more extrovert styling of the Mercedes, you’ll be very happy with the overall package.
Put the Mercedes A-Class in our car configurator to see the deals carwow could help you get.
The A3 is based on the same platform as the all-conquering Volkswagen Golf and most of the engine line-up is shared between the two cars. The Volkswagen has won legions of fans with its classless image and plush interior, so it might be hard for some to see how Audi could possibly improve on the formula.
The most noticeable difference is inside. The Golf’s cabin is beautifully built but the Audi feels a step up thanks to its more upmarket design and materials. The VW is usefully cheaper, however, and equipment levels are likely to be higher across the board. If you like your creature comforts and don’t need the outright luxury offered in the A3, the Golf is the better bet.
While the A3 Sportback has many strengths, you couldn’t call it truly sporty. That’s where the Mazda 3 comes in – the Japanese hatchback is one of best cars to chuck around a B-road and never fails to put a smile on your face. Add in a smooth ride and very efficient engines, and it isn’t hard to see why many critics rank the Mazda so highly.
It’s not going to impress the neighbours as much as the Audi, but you’ll benefit from a much higher level of standard equipment for similar money. You’ll also feel the benefit on the open road where the Mazda’s grip, responsive controls and agile handling can easily fool you into thinking you’re driving a hot hatch.
See the savings by speccing up your ideal Mazda 3 in our car configurator.
If you want to sit a little higher than you do in the A3 Sportback, the stylish Fiat 500X might be a great option. Styled to look like the ever-popular 500, the 500X ups the toughness factor but keeps the cute details that keeps buyers flocking to its smaller brother. It’s not just a pretty face either – four-wheel drive versions are pretty capable off road thanks to being developed alongside the Jeep Renegade – itself worthy of consideration.
The 500X is good fun to drive, too – resisting body roll well and featuring responsive accurate controls. The Fiat’s interior feels a little cheaper than the Audi and lacks fancy tech such as the Virtual Cockpit display but is more than practical enough for small families and looks attractive.
See the reductions on offer by putting the Fiat 500X in our car configurator.
BMW 1 Series
For years, the Audi’s main rival has been the BMW 1 Series – it’s similarly sized and has bags of badge kudos. The BMW offers more appeal for keener drivers – its rear-wheel-drive layout makes it much more engaging along a twisty backroad than the stable-if-uninspiring Audi.
The 1 Series isn’t without its faults, chiefly the slightly gawky styling – to our eyes, the A3 looks a lot smarter. The BMW is also noticeably less practical and, although the iDrive system is impressive, the general cabin ambience lags behind the newer Audi. If you’d prefer something sportier, the 1 Series might be a better bet than the all-rounder A3.
Save money on your next new car
Still think the Audi is the car for you? Take a look at our Audi A3 Sportback deals page to find a great price. Alternatively, check out our car chooser to see the rivals, or visit our deals page to see our latest discounts.