The Audi A3 is the most popular hatchback/subcompact sedan in Audi’s current lineup and is one of the best-selling Audi models in history. The A3 was first introduced in 1996 and has since spawned five generations with the latest one coming out in 2020. We are going to focus on the last two generations of the Audi A3 because they are the two ones that are selling the most.
The A3 powertrain comprises a few diesel and a few gasoline options. The A3 is also available as an electric car or as a hybrid car for the very latest Audi A3 models which aren’t really all that popular. These engines typically offer between 105hp and 160hp while the most powerful RS and S models offer up to 400hp.
The A3 is available in three different body styles, a regular Sportback 4-door hatchback, a 2-door hatchback, or a four-door subcompact sedan. They all look good, especially with S-Line exterior packages while the interior is highly dependent on the optional features you go for. Fully equipped A3 models look amazing on the inside, especially the last two generations.
Reliability-wise, the A3 is decent, but it needs proper maintenance to work as well as it can. Practicality is also better than expected. Finally, the values of these are steady for the most part because they are selling really well. 3-6-year-old A3 models are now the best ones to buy from a value for money standpoint.
Audi A3 – The powertrain
Entry-level Audi A3 gasoline models come with either a 1.2L, 1.4L, 1.5L, a 1.6L, or a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine with power outputs between 105hp and 265hp for the most powerful 2.0L 4-cylinder S3 models. You can also get the A3 with a 2.5L 5-cylinder gas engine with 400hp which is the most powerful Audi A3 model ever.
Diesel engines are the 1.6L TDI 4-cylinder or the 2.0L TDI 4-cylinder with power outputs of 115hp and 170hp for the most powerful 2.0L TDI models. You can get the A3 with a 40 TFSe hybrid powertrain which offers the 1.4L TFSI and an electric engine for a combined output of 204hp.
The best Audi gasoline engines are the 1.5L 150hp engines or the top-of-the-line 2.5L 5-cylinder units found in the range-topping RS3. The best diesel engine is undoubtedly the 2.0L TDI with 150hp because it balances efficiency and power better than any other A3 engine ever.
Efficiency is also great with all of these because the best gasoline engines can return up to 50MPG while the best diesel engines can return up to almost 70MPG which is an impressive number considering that none of these are truly underpowered.
Audi A3 – Design and chassis
When it comes to design, the A3 looks sleek and modern in both of its latest two generations. However, if you want the A3 to look the best, you will have to go for an S-Line equipped sedan or Sportback version. The 2-door A3 is not really all that popular because 2-doors simply aren’t enough for most people and the proportions aren’t the best either.
The A3 interior is really dependent on optional features because barebone models look really bad while nicely equipped models look incredible. The A3 suspension and chassis tuning are tailored towards a compliant and comfortable ride which makes the A3 feel like a true premium car.
Audi A3 – Reliability and common issues
The Audi A3 is a decently reliable car, but it does suffer from a few common issues worth talking about. For starters, the diesel engines are prone to issues with the DPF filter while gasoline engines are prone to issues with ignition coils. Both of these are known to sometimes use too much oil and can even develop various oil leaks.
Electrical issues and issues with the suspension are also common on many A3 models. The best course of action would be to maintain an Audi A3 as best as possible because it is not too expensive to maintain, yet it saves you a lot of trouble in the long run.
Audi A3 – Value and practicality
The new Audi A3 costs quite a bit of money from new, but it also retains its value really well on the 2nd hand market. The previous post-facelift A3 is now the best one to go for because it has depreciated a bit, but not overly so. All in all, the A3 offers good value if you are able to find one with the right equipment and not too many miles on the clock.
As far as practicality is concerned, the A3 is good, except for the 2-door versions which aren’t practical at all. The most practical A3 is actually the hatchback because the sedan has a more sloping roofline which eats into rear headspace a little bit.
Is the Audi A3 a good car to buy?
The Audi A3 is one of the best cars you can buy if you are interested in buying a hatchback or a subcompact sedan that is new enough to get all the latest Audi technology, but not at a cost usually associated with most Audi models.
The A3 offers great value and it manages to do both city driving and long journeys really well. All in all, the A3 is worth it if you are after such a car. If you deem the A3 too small, you are better off looking for something like an Audi A4 or even an A6.
What is the best Audi A3 model?
The best Audi A3 model is the 2.5L 5-cylinder 400hp Audi RS3 sedan. This can offer amazing performance thanks to its really exciting engine and really responsive S-Tronic dual-clutch gearbox. The RS3 sounds great, looks great, and drives great.
If you want a more ordinary Audi A3, the best ones to go for are either the 1.5L gasoline model or the 2.0L TDI diesel model. Quattro AWD is also available for some A3 models, but you don’t necessarily need it in an A3.
Is the Audi A3 a good family car?
If you have a younger family, the A3 is actually a great car. If you have a larger family or your kids are now adults, the A3 is not the car you should go for. All in all, the A3 gets various family friendly-features such as USB ports all around, easy-to-reach IsoFix mounting points for child seats, wide-opening doors, and a relatively quiet cabin.