I bought this car used, from a low volume dealer (shady, I know) with 54k on the odometer. It was a terrible purchase, even at a price I thought was great. It was leaking coolant the third day home, and required over $5k in repairs the first year. It was out of warranty, buyer beware, etc. I still like the car. It is expensive to fix, but when it is good, it is really good. Nothing cruises at highway speeds like a German car. Plenty of power, even on a high mileage engine. One thing I learned during the first year of ownership is this: don't take it to a dealership for service, period. You will overpay, in a ridiculous way. Example: bent rim, new wheel: $825. Really. I bought four new wheels and tires on tirerack.com for a hundred more than that, and they were lighter rims, and look better. That is just one example. The best thing you can do is learn to do your own maintenance/repairs and be vigilant. Read the online forums and watch the youtube tutorials. You will have to buy all new tools with a german car though. It is nothing like an American or Japanese car, which I have previously owned. Lots of starbolt fasteners. Even the wheels are held on by lugbolts (17mm) instead of lugnuts, which freaked me out the first time I rotated the tires. Most used car ownership experiences have a few repairs involved, especially once you break six figures on the odometer. For an Audi/Volkswagen, the parts are expensive and the service at the dealership is outrageous. I suppose I knew that going in, but that first year was rough.
The interior is holding up pretty well and it looks like a much newer car than it is. The front seats are supportive and comfortable even on long road trips. The leather has held up well with a minimum amount of creasing and no cracks. The seatback on the passenger side did randomly detach at one point, but I was able to fix it with a pair of pliers and some glue. The navigation system is one of the least user friendly I have ever used, with a very cumbersome amount of effort to program a destination. It works fine once you get it programmed I guess, but I just navigate on my phone to avoid the headache. The bluetooth is easy to program at least, but it doesn't stream audio to the radio. The system does have an input for an aux cord though, and my wife likes the satellite radio. The sound is great.
The performance is the best part about the car. It is a GTI in a fancy suit. Plenty of power to keep the driver entertained and with the S-line sport package you get great steering feel and confidence during cornering. Under aggressive acceleration I get a lot of wheel slip, which is the only gripe I have. Even with grippy summer tires, you have to baby the throttle a little bit. Most drivers probably aren't as lead footed as I am though, so it may not be an issue for most. The transmission is as high end as I have ever driven (manual), with smooth clutch engagement and a shifter that slides into gear like a hot knife through butter - so smooth. It feels very refined, but is every bit the sport hatchback when you want to play.
The exterior of the car has also held up very well. The paint is still glossy like new. The styling on this car was well ahead of its time, and it doesn't look even a little dated. My wife fell in love with it because of the looks, and she hates hatchbacks. I get compliments on it all the time.
You take the good with the bad. The Audi has been a bittersweet ownership experience. Sweet to drive but bitter to keep it running.
I love the car. It does very well at providing both exceptional fuel economy, and the visceral experience of driving a performance car. While not a rocket, the car is fit for the fast lane and is really fun to drive.
This is a great little car. Have had it for 7 months and am very pleased with it. I bought it primarily for it's fuel efficiency and not disappointed, averaging 45 mpg hwy & 37 city. Car is comfortable, quiet and has fairly good handling. The A3 has a clean exterior (sport wagon look) and a well laid out interior. Audi builds a quality car and while the A3 is their entry level vehicle, my opinion is that they did a fine job with the A3. It is pricier than the VW Jetta TDI but the detail level between the cars warrants the higher price.
Less than 2,000 miles on the car and I've noticed a sudden loss in power twice now when accelerating from a stop. Once from a traffic light was simply annoying and the 2nd time pulling out of a parking spot into traffic was dangerous. Anyone else notice this? The normal performance is great. The car is at the dealer for repair now.
Had been interested in purchasing a diesel for some time now but never seemed to make financial sense until the A3 TDI came out. Only $1200 more than a standard FWD A3. The Fed tax credit of $1300 covered the difference plus the state waives sales tax. What a great car! Love how it drives and rides. The TDI engine has plenty of pull to get on the highway and for passing. The interior is very impressive with surprisingly amount of room. The exterior looks fantastic especially with the LED/xenon headlights and black sunroof. Extremely happy with the purchase. Averaging 39 mpg. Great job Audi!