Audi A3 Sportback is an all-round SUV

The A3 is a solid all-rounder, offering decent economy, relaxed long-distance cruising and dependable handling through the corners. PHOTO/

What you need to know:

The A3 is Audi’s bread and butter, a dependable all-round hatchback now in its fourth generation that remains a huge seller despite the endless rise of the sport utility vehicle (SUV)

The A3 has perfected its conservative setup, avoiding fads and fashions to offer a consistent slice of premium German car making. That is not to say it does not need freshening up to stay with the times; a 2024 facelift of the fourth-generation car was a mostly light touch but focused on some much-needed improvements.

Audi has put a bit more effort into making the S3 hot hatch more fun to drive, so if you want an A3 that is perkier and more entertaining, that is the place to look.

The latest A3 Sportback (or hatchback if you are not a middle-aged marketing executive) shows off (standard) configurable DRLs (you can pick from several different patterns from inside the car) and (optional) LED matrix headlights on the outside. The interior gets some fancier materials and a higher standard spec. Other innovations include the introduction of a new app store that will sit in your infotainment; you can download a range of free and paid-for apps to the car, depending on what you fancy.

What engines are available?

There are currently two powertrains to choose from; a 1.5-litre ’35 TFSI’ petrol and a 2.0-litre ’35 TDI’ diesel, producing 148bhp and getting to 62mph from rest in 8.1 seconds. Currently, the petrol is the one to go for. It is that bit more refined, socially acceptable and not far off the diesel in terms of the economy either. Both manage fuel economy of 50mpg plus in mixed driving.

How does it drive?

The driving experience matches the A3 Sportback’s conservative outward appearance, which is not to criticise; not everything has to be a sports car. The A3 is a solid all-rounder, offering decent economy, relaxed long-distance cruising and dependable handling through the corners. What more would you want from a day-to-day car?

The A3 has not enjoyed the lavish attention visited on the latest version of the S3, which has transformed that machine into a more fun daily driver. This remains a grown-up, sensible car to drive, however, which is what buyers of the standard model will no doubt be after.

Turn-in is sharp, the ride is pliant and neutral and the 35 TFSI 1.5-litre 4cyl petrol that will be the default choice for many is a flexible unit. It can be hustled if you are running late, but it will also tickle along economically.


The early 2024 facelift has brought some minor changes into what was already a solid interior, albeit one that has started to fall behind some of its rivals in terms of quality. This is saying something for the car that not too long ago set the benchmark.

There are some nice little touches; microfibre fabric inserts on the dashboard add a little flair, as do the perforated door linings with ambient lighting behind them.

How is the tech?

The 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment display is fitted as standard across the range, likewise the 12.3-inch digital instrument panel behind the steering wheel. The infotainment is one of the more responsive and logical setups on the market, and Audi’s just added an app store functionality where you can download a variety of free and paid-for applications to the car.

Look, buttons!

Audi is to be applauded here, especially in the face of interior atrocities committed elsewhere in the Volkswagen Group range where dashboards have been almost entirely stripped of useful buttons.

You have got a range of buttons available to control the air conditioner without the need to go sub-menu diving all over the place, plus things such as driving modes, heated seats and various safety functions have their switches.

The gear selector has also been upgraded, to a slightly classier-looking affair that tidies up the centre console a smidge. However, you could probably do without the glossy black surround that has crept in across the Audi range; it shows up smudges, marks and fingerprints terribly.

Is the A3 practical?

The A3 is decently roomy, with plenty of space up front and a comfortable environment for longer journeys. It is roomy for two adults in the back as well, though the middle seat is something of a squeeze and legroom there is compromised by the transmission tunnel.

It features a 380-litre boot, which is bang on the same as the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class. That expands to 1,200 litres if you knock the rear seats down.

What are the engine options?

There are two easy choices to make when it comes to the current engine line-up; there is just a 1.5-litre petrol engine and a 2.0-litre diesel unit on offer at the moment, though more drivetrains will arrive later in 2024, including an upgraded PHEV.

The petrol unit is rated at 54.3mpg WLTP, while the diesel is good for 58.9mpg on the official cycle. Both come equipped with Audi’s S Tronic 7spd auto, though a six-speed manual will soon be added to the petrol range.


The Audi strikes a neat balance between fuss-free family transport, well-mannered refinement and managing to feel just a little keener in the chassis department than A3s of old.

Most buyers will be seduced by the image, the badge, the impression of tech, and the A3 ticks those boxes too. But underneath there’s a fundamentally well-engineered car.

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