Audi A3 (2012 – 2020) Review

Audi A3 (2012 – 2020) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The third-generation Audi A3 combines the premium cabin and technology you’d expect from a much bigger and more expensive car with the low running costs of a family hatchback.

+Comfortable and high quality premium hatchback, low emissions diesel engines including economical 1.6 TDI, very refined at speed yet handles well in corners.

-Top models are close to £30k new.

Insurance Groups are between 15–32
On average it achieves 77% of the official MPG figure

The A3 has been one of Audi's most successful models but this replacement for the 2008 version was a long time coming. It’s a superb alternative to the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and BMW 1 Series, although its strong image means second-hand models are holding onto their values very well. If you need more space, consider the five-door Audi A3 Sportback, while the saloon offers an executive image and a bigger boot. There’s a convertible, too - while hot S3 and RS3 models offer performance car thrills in the body of a family hatchback.

With the popularity of the BMW 1 Series there were big expectations for the A3 which faced more competition than ever before. The good news is that it didn’t disappoint.

The styling is familiar. Audi was not especially daring with the design but it echoes other Audi models and is a neat and unfussy design. Elsewhere, on a new Volkswagen Group platform, this A3 is very different from the model it replaces.

It's similar in length but a longer wheelbase means better interior space and a larger boot. The interior design is impressive too. This is no scaled up version of the A1, instead the A3 got its own unique interior with some nice design touches and a real touch of finesse.

The engine line up majored on efficiency - for both petrols and diesels. There's a 1.4 TFSI which was later joined by an impressive 1.0 TFSI - an engine also used in the A1. It may seem too small for the A3 but it's surprisingly good, especially if you're spending most of your time away from motorways.

Volkswagen Group’s 1.5-litre petrol was added to the range in 2017, with a choice of 130 or 150PS.

The 2.0 TDI was popular among long distance drivers and it made the A3 a great long distance car thanks to plenty of low down torque. It was also available with quattro four-wheel drive for added traction and more security in slippery conditions.

For outright economy the 1.6 TDI is best and according to the official NEDC figures returned more than 70mpg. In the real-world, it’s good for around 53mpg.

Proof of how good this A3 is comes from driving it. It feels better than the older model in every way from the steering, to the front end grip to refinement at high speeds. It’s not as fun to drive as the BMW 1 Series, but it does a very good job of taking the bind out of day-to-day driving.

It's a great all round car and it's often easy to think you are driving a larger car such is it's poise and composure. As a second-hand purchase, the A3 leads the way when it comes to premium hatchbacks thanks to its generous levels of standard equipment and high quality finish.

Ask Honest John

When is a cambelt change required for an Audi A3?

"Apparently Audi UK have fallen in line with Audi Germany in stating that the cam belt is now replaced at 180,000 miles instead of every 5 years. Is this true?"
It depends on the engine fitted to your Audi and you local dealer will be able to confirm the exact schedule for your vehicle, but on some vehicles Audi has increased the interval to 130,000/140,000 miles with no time limit. However, if you plan on keeping your vehicle long-term we would recommend replacing it earlier than this, based on your current mileage and how long you have owned the vehicle. Although it is an additional expense, an early cambelt change ensures peace of mind.
Answered by David Ross

How can I sell my Category N car?

"I am trying to sell my Category N Audi A3 saloon 1.8 S Line, a 2015 car with 55,000 miles on the clock. I am struggling to sell it, could I please get an estimation on what it's worth and best ways to sell a category car? It has been repaired to a very high standard."
Valuing a category N car is not an exact science, other than the value will inevitably be somewhat less than an equivalent car without damage. We would suggest starting by looking at cars with a similar specification, mileage and age to yours to get an indication for what price they are advertised at. A quick look online would suggest that around £12,000 is the approximate value for a car like this, so we would suggest pricing your car below this value. It is important to remember that some buyers will not look at a car with a category marker against it, so it will inevitably take a little longer to sell than one with a clean history.
Answered by David Ross

Where I can a get a locking wheel nut key from?

"Do you know where I can get a security alloy wheel nut to undo the locking nut on an Audi A3?"
If you have lost the original locking wheel nut key the best bet is to call or visit your local Audi dealer. You'll need the VIN number of your car because there are a lot of different designs (hence it being called a key) and Audi need to locate one to fit your car.
Answered by Lawrence Allan

When should I change the cam belt on my Audi A3?

"I have an Audi A3 TFSI 1.5 (67 Plate). Audi suggested I have the cam belt changed at a very high cost. I looked around for other providers to do the job at a more reasonable cost. I had no luck as even though Halfords tried a special tool is required. I went back to my local Audi dealer yesterday and they said the cost was high as they had not done it before and it was complex. I was also told someone had put the same type of car in for the job and the dealer could not complete the task as they do not have the special tool either! They have requested the tool, which could take months to come from Germany. In the meantime Audi are also reviewing whether the job should be done after 5 years or 10 years I was told. I told the the Audi contact that if anything happened to my car in the meantime they would be responsible, am I right?"
If the cam belt fails then you will sadly be 100 per cent liable for the costs. And a belt failure is usually terminal for the engine, which means the repairs will cost you thousands. This is why I always err on the side of caution with cam belts and recommend a change every five years or 60,000 miles (whichever comes first). In regards to the belt replacement, I would suggest that you find another Audi dealer or use an independent Audi specialist. You may be able to find one with our Good Garage Guide:
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions

What does a Audi A3 (2012 – 2020) cost?