The Audi A3 has been for many years, the consummate premium hatch. Audi virtually invented the segment when they launched the original back in 1996. The A3 has sold by the bucket load for Audi but the second generation model was starting to look a little tired despite a mid-life refresh. For 2012 we have a completely new model to compete with the likes of BMW and Mercedes, welcome to the 2013 Audi A3 First Drive.

2013 Audi A3 First Drive

2012 audi a3 first drive

So what has changed?

This latest A3 is bigger, lighter, more economical and even better built than before. You may have to look twice to see what Audi has done to update the styling but the new body is tighter and more in-line with Audi’s current design language. From the front the new A3 apes the larger A6 and as you look around the car you’ll notice the almost non-existent shut-lines that we have come to expect from Audi. The car has a sporty yet handsome appearance but overall it doesn’t look as exciting as the new A-Class or BMW 1-series. As before, ticking the S-Line option will give you bigger wheels, nicer trim and a sportier stance but unlike before you don’t have to live with the harsh sports suspension as your dealer will let you spec the S-Line with normal springs and dampers which is a nice little touch.

New 2012 Audi A3 Review UK

Inside you’ll find a completely updated interior that’ll feel very familiar to Audi A1 drivers. Audi’s use of buttons has been very restrained but everything falls easily to hand and most people should be able find everything without having to hunt around. The centre of the dash hides a very slim LCD screen that is used for all of the cars infotainment and navigation functions and is controlled by a simple jog-wheel located near the gear-stick. Every surface oozes quality and the new half leather/half alcantara sports seats found on the S-Line model are very nice indeed.

New 2012 Audi A3 Pics

Under the bonnet you’ll have the choice of four engines, two petrol, two diesel. We drove the 1.8 180bhp petrol and the 150bhp diesel and both were impressive with their performance and economy. The diesel was the most accomplished all-rounder and its 236 lb ft of torque meant it felt that bit quicker than its petrol counterpart. The most interesting engine may be the new 1.6 diesel which emits just 99 g/km of CO2, which means zero tax and is bound to be popular with fleet drivers.

2012 audi a3 UK test drive

2013 Audi A3 First Drive Verdict

Our time with the new car was brief but we did manage to get a good feel for the new Audi A3. Overall it is a very accomplished package and the quality in every area is certainly beyond its rivals. The engines are quiet, smooth, economical and offer sufficient performance. The S-Line models look great inside and out but we would recommend opting for the normal suspension over the harsher option. It matches the character of the car much better and makes motorway driving that bit more pleasurable.

Overall the A3 is bound to sell well just like the older versions and will go down a storm with the Audi’s established client base. It screams quality and sophistication but lacks that extra something that might be present in some of it’s rivals. It is not as exciting to look at as the new Mercedes A-Class and the driving dynamics are not on a par with the rear-drive BMW 1-Series. Despite this it does offer more luxury than you would normally expect in a car this small and it’s hard to fault such a well put together car. We’ll have to wait until later in the year to give the new A3 a proper test.

What do you think of the new A3? Would you have one?



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