Review: Audi A3 (2012)


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.

Audi A3 (2012): At A Glance

The A3 has been one of Audi's most successful models but this replacement for the 2008 version was a long time coming. 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 doesn'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 VAG's MGB integrated subframes, this A3 is very different from the 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.

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. The Real MPG average is 54.1mpg.

Proof of how good this A3 is comes from driving it. It feels better in every way from the steering, to the front end grip to refinement at high speeds. 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. With high levels of standard equipment and a high quality finish the A3 leads the way when it comes to premium hatchbacks.

Audi A3 2012 Road Test

Audi A3 2012 2.0 TDI Long-Term Test Reports

What does a Audi A3 (2012) cost?

List Price from £22,725
Buy new from £19,893
Contract hire from £219.18 per month

Audi A3 (2012): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4237–4241 mm
Width 1765–1966 mm
Height 1421–1424 mm
Wheelbase 2578–2601 mm

Full specifications

Rather than just going for a copycat interior of the A1 or the Q3 as you might expect, the A3 gets its own interior that's different from any other Audi. It looks great with some nice design details like the circular vents (like the previous A3), a new layout of the MMI system with slimmer switches and a strip that runs across the dash which includes a line of buttons just above the air conditioning controls.

According to Audi the designer of the interior was charged with essentially creating an interior similar to the luxury A8 but scaled down to fit in the A3. It has a similar upmarket feel to it and feels a cut above others, with more finesse and style than the interior of the BMW 1 Series. Small luxuries like having an electric parking brake rather than a conventional handbrake add to overall feeling of quality. This also means there's no handbrake to bash against the central armrest as in the old A3.

There's plenty of room for both passengers in the front and the driving position is spot on so even on long journeys you won't feel uncomfortable. As this is a three door getting into the back isn't that straightforward but once there it's surprisingly roomy with decent head and legroom.

Impressively all models get an ultra thin colour display that electrically slides out of the dash. Higher spec models come with the MMI (Multi Media Interface) system with a central dial for controlling all the main functions like the stereo, sat nav and Bluetooth.

Top models even get MMI Navigation Plus which was first seen on the luxury A8. This includes a touchpad that allows you to actually write out letters and numbers with your finger which the sat nav will recognise. It can also be upgraded to include a WLAN hotspot which means passengers can access the internet on the move. Other options include a Bang & Olufsen stereo.

SE models come with 16-inch alloy wheels, MMI radio with 5.8-inch electrically folding screen and MMI controls, Audi Music Interface, Bluetooth, preparation for SD card navigation retro fit, voice control system, air conditioning, four-spoke multi function leather steering wheel, trip computer, front centre armrest, cloth upholstery and a space saver spare wheel.

Sport models have 17-inch alloy wheels, Audi Drive Select, two-zone climate control, comfort sports seats, a three-spoke sports multi function steering wheel, a colour trip computer, aluminium inlays and door sill trims, aluminium window trims, sports suspension lowered by 15mm.

S line models add 18-inch alloy wheels, S line body styling, spoiler, chrome tailpipe trims, cloth and leather seats, xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, S line sports multi function steering wheel, perforated leather gear lever, brushed aluminium inlays and door sill trims, storage pack and luggage pack.

Child seats that fit a Audi A3 (2012)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Audi A3 (2012) like to drive?

One of the criticisms of the outgoing A3 is that it's not especially engaging to drive but Audi has turned it around with this A3. Both the ride and handling are much improved thanks to new suspension and a stiffer body.

There's better grip, better steering and a more compliant ride, even on the Sport and S line models which get sports suspension, a lower ride height (15mm lower on Sport and 25mm lower on S line) plus bigger alloys. Of course if you don't want the sports suspension, you can have the standard suspension fitted as a no cost option.

All this combines to make the A3 feel like a bigger car all round and it corners incredibly well with great body control and a nice weight to the steering. Like the the A1, the A3 is a very enjoyable and easy car to drive, while still remaining comfortable.

There is also the optional Audi drive select system that lets the driver vary the characteristics of key components, such as the steering weight, throttle response and the transmission shift points (where S tronic is fitted).

From the launch there were just three engines - a 1.4 and a 1.8 TFSI along with a new version of the 2.0 TDI which has 150PS. At the end of 2012 the frugal 1.6 TDI was added and in spring 2013 a 1.4 TFSI with 140PS arrived.

If you aren't doing big miles then the petrols make more sense, especially the 1.4 TFSI. It doesn't feel at all like an 'entry-level' engine though, with plenty of smooth power available. 

Thanks to the turbocharger it has plenty of low down pulling power so you don't have to work the engine hard to make swift progress. If you are feeling a bit more eager, the TFSI unit is happy to be revved up to its maximum and it continues to impress with plenty of power at the top end too. It sounds good too with a nice sporty note.

It's so good it almost makes the 1.8 TFSI redundant. The 1.4 TFSI feels as good and you only really notice the difference right at the top of the rev range where the larger engine has more in reserve. In mid 2016 a 1.0 TFSI engine was launched. It may seem way to small for the A3 but it's surprisingly good with lots of low down power and a zesty nature. It replaces the 1.2 TFSI and has more power with 115PS. 

For those covering bigger miles, the 1.6 TDI is the best for economy, with a claimed figure of around 70mpg or better (depending on which version you go for). However, the 2.0 TDI - and engine that's an Audi and Volkswagen mainstay - is hard to look past.

The 150PS version is smooth and reasonably quiet, while on the motorway it makes for relaxed progress. You can pretty much leave it in sixth gear and keep up with traffic while using minimal fuel. But there's enough torque for overtaking or if you need to get a move on. 

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.0 TFSI 63 mpg 9.7 s 104–107 g/km
1.0 TFSI S tronic 63 mpg 9.7 s 104–107 g/km
1.2 TFSI 57–58 mpg 9.9 s 114–117 g/km
1.2 TFSI S tronic 57–59 mpg 9.9 s 110–116 g/km
1.4 TFSI 52–55 mpg 9.2 s 117–124 g/km
1.4 TFSI CoD 59–63 mpg 8.1 s 105–111 g/km
1.4 TFSI CoD S tronic 58–60 mpg 8.1 s 109–113 g/km
1.4 TFSI S tronic 55–59 mpg 9.1 s 114–117 g/km
1.5 TFSI 150 58 mpg 8.1 s 112–116 g/km
1.5 TFSI 150 S tronic 60 mpg 8.1 s 108–112 g/km
1.6 TDI 69–74 mpg 10.1–10.5 s 99–109 g/km
1.6 TDI S tronic 69–74 mpg 10.1–10.5 s 102–107 g/km
1.6 TDI Ultra 83 mpg 10.5 s 89 g/km
1.8 TFSI 42–49 mpg 7.1–8.2 s 135–156 g/km
1.8 TFSI S tronic 43–50 mpg 6.7–7.2 s 129–153 g/km
2.0 TDI 150 61–71 mpg 8.5 s 105–120 g/km
2.0 TDI 150 quattro 58–59 mpg 8.2 s 125–127 g/km
2.0 TDI 150 S tronic 61–67 mpg 8.0–8.2 s 109–121 g/km
2.0 TDI 184 63–67 mpg 7.3 s 112–118 g/km
2.0 TDI 184 quattro S tronic 58–59 mpg 6.7–6.8 s 127–129 g/km
2.0 TDI 184 S tronic 59 mpg 6.7 s 127–128 g/km
2.0 TFSI 190 49–50 mpg 6.7–6.8 s 129–130 g/km
2.0 TFSI 190 quattro S tronic 48–49 mpg 6.1 s 133–134 g/km
2.0 TFSI 190 S tronic 50 mpg 6.7 s 129–130 g/km

Real MPG average for a Audi A3 (2012)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

27–69 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Audi A3 (2012)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Which space saver will fit my car?

I have an Audi A3 with 225/45 R17 wheels. What size space saver can I use?
It's a standard space saver for any A3/Golf/Leon/Octavia wheel size. Just remember to keep it under 50mph and that roadholding and braking will be severely compromised, especially in the wet. Here's where you can buy one:
Answered by Honest John
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