Audi A3 Buyers’ Guide – (2012-Present)

Perhaps no other car says, ‘small luxury hatchback’ quite like the A3. Read our buyers' guide to find out if you want to splash out on an A3.

The Audi A3 is one of those cars that sort of defines its segment. Perhaps no other car says, ‘small luxury hatchback’ quite like the A3, and it’s proven to be a big hit among the buyers too. The latest generation arrived back in 2012, and has already had its mid-life facelift. Used versions make for a bit of a bargain if you’re after something small, well-built, and oozing quality. So, this is what we know about the Audi A3.

Common Problems

There aren’t really any common problems with the Audi A3, but some reports have come in about a bit of a dodgy water pump which can cause leaks. Other than that, there isn’t really anything for you to fret about. This is a very well-made motor.

Ownership Costs

Running and caring for an Audi is naturally going to cost you more money than running a Vauxhall or a Ford. But this is the next step up in terms of quality, so you should expect to have to put a bit more money in when it comes to a hatchback like this. Luckily, there are some efficient engines on offer and – providing you check that the post VW Group emission scandal work has been carried out – tax should be low too.

Fuel Costs

None of the Audi A3’s engines are particularly expensive to run, even the hugely powerful ‘RS3’ super-hatch can return decent figures if you behave yourself. Perhaps the best engine is the 2.0-litre turbo diesel (TDI) engine. It’s a fine diesel engine that churns out decent power as well as returning figures upwards of 50mpg with relative ease. A cracking engine for the A3.


Audi has a very good reputation for reliability when it comes to the A3, and you shouldn’t have much to worry about with regards to the car letting you down. The A3 is considered one of the more reliable rides of the last few years.

Service Intervals

It all depends on the car, but often the A3 needs servicing once every 19,000-miles or every two years, whichever landmark you hit first. All A3s are equipped with on-board computers, which remind you or prompt you when a service is due.

Which Engine should I choose?

Our heart says get an RS3 with the remarkable 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine, which provides remarkable muscle for the size of the engine – and makes a terrific noise to boot. However, the 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine is the best all-rounder and that ought to be the one you go for if you’re sensible.


The BMW 1 Series is rear-wheel driven and perhaps a bit sharper to drive. And the quality is just about on a par with the Audi. One of the things the Bimmer has over the Audi A3 is the brilliant automatic gearbox. It is just a bit better than the Audi’s automatic ‘box. While the Mercedes-Benz A-Class isn’t as good to drive as either, it holds its own when it comes to the luxury factor.


Carsnip’s editorial chief, Tim Barnes-Clay, says: In an ideal world I’d have an RS3 because they’re just so fast and capable. But, perhaps the best model for you guys is the S-Line trim. It’s a sportier trim level that suits the car well – with the 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine we keep banging on about. Whether it’s an automatic or manual, it’s up to you what you prefer, as both gearboxes are admirable.

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