Used Audi A3 Review (2012-2020) MK3

Independent review by Peter Hayward from Driving Force

4-minute read

Blue Audi A3 Exterior Front Driving

Audi A3 (2012-2020)

The Audi A3 is a family hatchback that offers a good level of practicality, various economical powertrains and a top build quality

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  • Great to drive
  • Built to a high standard
  • Classy and practical interior
  • More expensive than some rivals
  • Sportier models are less comfortable
  • Base models could be better equipped
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What's the Audi A3 like?

As with most Audi cars, the A3’s design is svelte and sophisticated but rather understated.

The model built between 2012 and 2018 has marvellous handling and road holding with the standard suspension.

Lowered sports suspension was standard on Sport and S-Line models and optional on some others, but it adds little to the handling prowess and spoils the comfort quite badly.

Driving Experience

They're all gems to drive whether 3-door hatch, 5-door Sportback, 4-door saloon or the beautiful cabriolet – one of the best-looking soft tops on the market.

This car is wider and longer than previous models, but weighs less, so it has improved performance plus increased economy and lower emissions when the same engine is fitted.

The A3 is still seen as the class leader of small family cars, with excellent build quality and refinement that other car makers might envy.
Peter Hayward

That said, they also have high residual values and will cost more than other makes year for year.


The base 1.0-litre and 1.2-litre TSI petrol turbos are fun and, of course, as you go up the scale performance only gets better.

The later 1.0-litre has 115bhp and sprints to 60mph from a standstill in just 9.4 seconds, while the 1.2-litre has 110bhp and covers the sprint in 9.6 seconds. Both are supposedly capable of around 60mpg but in real driving the very best is likely to be 45-50mpg.

Next up the petrol scale is a 1.4-litre turbo with either 125, 140 or 150bhp. The 140bhp version sprints to 60 in 8.0 seconds and should also do 45-50mpg at best.

Latterly, this was replaced with a 1.5-litre that’s slightly quicker and more economical.

At the top of the range – apart from the barnstorming S3 - is a 2.0-litre petrol with 187bhp. It covers the sprint in 6.6 seconds and is rated at 50mpg – a figure it’s most unlikely to meet on the road.

The majority of used A3 models are likely come with diesel power units. These start with the long standing and much updated 1.6-litre, which has three different power outputs – 103, 110 and 116bhp. All cover the 60mph sprint in around 10 seconds and are capable of 60–70mpg.

The top diesel is a 2.0-litre with 150 or 184bhp, that makes 60mph in 7.7 and 7.1 seconds respectively. They’re also capable of high sixties economy.

The top petrol and diesel 2.0-litre engines are available with Audi’s well-known quattro four-wheel drive and most are available with automatic gearboxes.

Interior and Equipment

Boot space in all models is very good and all get folding rear seats to get longer items in or simply more luggage.

The interior and dashboard are excellent quality and beautifully designed with controls well to hand.

Rear legroom is better than in earlier models but as with all others, rear access is never elegant in the 3-door.

Base SE models have fair equipment, but miss out on items like parking sensors that come as standard in much cheaper machinery.

Of course, most used cars will have additional options from the wide and expensive extras list specified by the original owner.

All get aircon, DAB radio with the Audi Music Interface, voice control, stability control, heated mirrors, remote locking, alarm, very comfortable multi-adjustable seats and alloy wheels.

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In a very competitive hatchback class, the Audi A3 stands out from the crowd thanks to a sophisticated design, a high build quality and a comfortable yet practical interior. With a wide variety of powertrains to choose from, there's sure to be an A3 that suits your lifestyle.