2012 Audi A3 Review


Pros & Cons

  • Upscale interior
  • enjoyable driving dynamics
  • versatile interior space
  • high fuel efficiency from available diesel engine.
  • Limited rear-seat room for taller passengers
  • unintuitive navigation controls.
List Price

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2012 Audi A3 is a fine entry-level luxury choice with the added benefit of increased utility. Just be careful with the pricey options.

Vehicle overview

As the old adage goes, "You can't please all the people all the time." But that doesn't mean you can't try. In this vein, the 2012 Audi A3 has the potential to appeal to a fairly wide and diverse set of car buyers. As Audi's entry-level model, it offers hatchback sensibilities, a dash of athleticism and even a promise of eco-friendliness.

The A3 maintains a reasonable amount of luxury and style that Audi is known for, thanks to an upscale and classy-looking interior. It's also versatile thanks to its hatchback/wagon design that provides more cargo space than the typical sedan. The A3 isn't nearly as roomy as a small luxury crossover SUV (like Audi's Q5, for instance), but it counters with much more lively handling.

The Audi A3 comes with one of two engines: Audi's (and parent company Volkswagen's) familiar and sprightly 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 or a 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel. The TDI isn't nearly as quick, but it compensates with an EPA-estimated 42 mpg on the highway and 34 mpg in combined driving. One downside, however, is that Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system is not available with the TDI -- something to consider if you live in an area prone to inclement weather or if road-holding prowess is a priority.

These days, small luxury wagons and hatchbacks are few and far between. The most notable competitors to the A3 are the 2012 Acura TSX Sport Wagon and the 2012 Lexus CT 200h. The TSX is more family-friendly thanks to its roomier rear seat, while the Lexus, being a hybrid, is the most fuel-efficient of the group. Savvy shoppers who don't require a luxury nameplate should check out the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen, as it shares much of the A3's mechanicals and offers a lot more cargo capacity. But overall, the 2012 Audi A3 is a solid choice that should please plenty of people most of the time.

2012 Audi A3 models

The 2012 Audi A3 is a four-door hatchback offered in two trims: Premium and Premium Plus.

Standard equipment on the Premium includes 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery and a 10-speaker sound system with CD player, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. The Bluetooth Value package adds an eight-way power driver seat (includes four-way lumbar adjustment), a multifunction steering wheel and Bluetooth.

The Premium Plus comes standard with the Bluetooth Value package and adds different wheels, xenon headlights, LED running lights, steering wheel shift paddles (with automatic transmission) and aluminum interior trim. The Audi Navigation System Plus package adds a navigation system, a dash-mounted Audi Multi Media Interface (MMI) and the choice of either a six-CD changer or an iPod interface. The Convenience package adds automatic headlights, automatic wipers, rear parking sensors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a Bose premium sound system.

Optional on both cars is the Cold Weather package, which adds heated front seats, heated mirrors and heated windshield washer nozzles. Also available are a panoramic sunroof, rear side airbags and a Sport package that includes 18-inch wheels, summer tires, a sport-tuned suspension and sport seats. The Titanium Sport package (available on the Premium Plus) adds special exterior and interior trim to the Sport package.

2012 Highlights

The 2012 Audi A3 remains essentially unchanged.

Performance & mpg

The 2012 Audi A3 is available with either a gasoline (2.0T) or a diesel (TDI) engine. The A3 2.0T is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline four-cylinder that makes 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, as is a six-speed manual transmission, but a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission (known as S tronic) is available. With all-wheel drive, S tronic is standard.

In performance testing, an A3 2.0T with the six-speed manual went from zero to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds -- a reasonably quick time among similarly powered entry-level luxury cars. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined with the manual, and 22/28/24 with S tronic. Adding all-wheel drive drops mileage by only 1 mpg in the city.

The A3 TDI features a 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel four-cylinder that produces 140 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. S tronic is standard, but all-wheel drive is not offered. Audi estimates a 0-60 time of 8.9 seconds, which is on the slow side, but fuel economy is exceptional, with estimates of 30/42/34.


The 2012 Audi A3 comes standard with front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, whiplash-reducing front headrests, antilock brakes and stability control. Rear-seat side airbags are optional.

In Edmunds brake testing, an A3 2.0T with the Sport package came to a stop from 60 mph in a very short 107 feet. In crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the A3 received the best rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.


The 2012 Audi A3's 2.0-liter gasoline engine provides ample power and is well-matched to either transmission choice. The A3 TDI feels quite energetic around town thanks to its ample torque, but it runs out of steam when charging up a highway on-ramp because of its lack of horsepower. The trade-off is exceptional fuel economy, however, which seems worth it for us.

As with many Audis, the A3's suspension tuning is on the firm side to enhance performance, yet there's still enough compliance to soak up most road imperfections. Whether commuting in heavy traffic or cruising down the highway, the A3's cabin remains pleasantly refined and quiet.


Just as with other Audi interiors, the A3's cabin adopts an understated and classy design language. For the most part, materials are high quality, with metallic vent surrounds and knobs lending a decidedly upscale feel. There are a few more hard plastic elements than you'll find in other Audi models, however, but they are well textured to blend in seamlessly.

It's likely that the navigation system will be a popular option for buyers, but operation may present some minor challenges. The screen, while large and clear, is not controlled by touch. Rather, it makes use of Audi's MMI controller. This wouldn't be a problem if the controller was situated on the center console, but instead it's located inconveniently on the dash.

Where passenger space is concerned, there are some issues to make note of. The driver seat may not have enough forward travel for shorter folks, while the rear seat is cramped for taller ones. Cargo capacity is more favorable, as the 20 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats can easily accommodate large suitcases and golf bags with ease. A rear-seat center pass-through allows for longer items while still carrying passengers. The seats fold down, but not flat, expanding capacity to 39 cubes.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2012 Audi A3.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Second one - Might go for a third
The Amazing Marc,11/02/2017
2.0T PZEV Premium 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)
Its mechanics are identical to a Volkwagen GTI. But its lower, has more room in back, and a much nicer image. They burn a lot of oil, so keep an eye on the dip stick. Do run the VINs and check if its had the Intake Cam & High output fuel pump worked on - They denied issues until hundreds of angry villagers stormed the castle with Pitch Forks and torches. They finally gave in and admitted they hired the wrong company to provide the additional mechanicals. I actually had to have them do it twice (on my o9), as the first time, they didn't bolt something to spec and it began having problems within a couple of weeks - VWoA spent over $6k on that engine, but the top end has a 100,000 mile warranty now. Second one ('12) has been a champ, but the local Dealer is not the best.
Nice dieselGate used car and so comfortable!!!
Evan F.,04/17/2020
2.0T Premium 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)
I just purchased this after a test drive of over 250 miles over several days. I went up a very long grade from Knoxville to just past Mohawk up I-81. It got 39.9 mpg Hwy and 34.8 city mpg. The PPI (inspection) was free: bled front brakes, test drove and put it up on rack, inspected motor (TDI) and battery, checked tranny, tires, fluids, interior electronics and all of independent suspension. It past with flying colors. I was advised it would be a great purchase at 11044.80 out the door. New tires are on it. The one thing we noticed was the road. It runs quite on the road but you really can feel it with the S-Line suspension. We are putting in a Jetta suspension (coil over struts, front springs rear shocks and rear springs) on it. The bushings and McPherson sway bar are like new so we will leave as is. The ride will be higher, but smoother. I am older so don't need the lower curve hugging racing qualities the lower suspension has which tight and responsive. The seats are extremely comfortable up front. The passenger has ample leg room and both seats are heated. They go flat for rest stops. It took a while to figure out how to use trip computer and all the screens. The controls are on the end of the washer control stick. You can't see the cruise control stick as it is blocked from view by the steering wheel and just behind the turn signal arm. It is easy to use once you get used to its position. The turn signal has a 3 signal function when barely pressed it gives three quick light ups. I am not sure why this function exists? What does this does I have no idea? Anyone else have an idea why? The mirrors can be folded for tight parking areas. The driver seat has power everything and is easy to use and find that sweet spot for comfortable driving. The heater in it took a bit to figure out, but it is great for my 10 surgery back!!! It feels Soooo good!!! I found with my fused back from the S1-T11 that if I stepped backwards with my right foot into to car first it makes getting in much easier. Otherwise I have to put the seat all the way down and all the way back to get out and in. Stepping in backwards saves my seat position and simplifies getting in and out. The telescoping/tilt wheel has little movement, but seat positioning with power function quickly utilizes this weakness and makes it a plus. This seat makes everything just right for me. I am 5'4 1/2" so finding the sweet comfortable spot is hard for me. This A3 allows me to do it in no time with little effort. The black interior/exterior shows the dirt and how. I am thinking on having it painted and carrying a rechargeable hand vacuum. The spare is full size, but the 80/mile 50 MPH type but full deep treaded. I plan on getting a full size rim and tire and rotate it with the other new tires. Cost for rim and stem about $249 delivered. Not bad. Tire is about $75 for 30,000 miles so, $324 for a real spare tire. The jack and tools are right in the back just in front of the tire with some tools to its right. The back has a cover that lowers and raises when the hatch opens with the click of the FOB and there are 2 of them and an actual third key! FOBs are programable for optimal air control. Each driver can have their year round temperature set for their FOB. When they get in the car will automatically set the temperature to their cozy atmosphere. Dual controls allow the front passenger to set their own. There are no back vents. The back seats are comfortable, but snug. The arm rest mechanism is easily broken as mine was when I bought it! Now I have to reach into the back of its top to release the arm rest so it detaches and lowers. Not a problem. This release is not made well so breaks easily. I not sure I am going to replace it. Looks like the whole top will have to be replaced including the cushion to fix The storage area in back is smaller that the Jetta, but quite ample. The vents, knobs and what not resemble a cockpit and were designed that way. They are easy to reach and use. The manual is easy to read and for the most part very helpful. Access to the 12 volt power and auxiliary input is under the front seat arm rest and accessed through a sliding panel to the rear. I can listen to my cassettes on a remote deck now!!! The TDI can be opened by the release just forward of the left knee. The motor hesitates at the start unless in sport position. It is easy to access all the fluids. This car has 34260 miles and purrs like a kitten. It's quite responsive when you need to punch it and holds hills well with no decrease in speed. It nibbles away at the oil so keep an eye on it and carry extra with you just above the spare tire. Put a 1/8th inch cut out of particle/card board and this will give you about 7 inches of ample storage area besides the pockets provided pockets. Great car! Will update later.


IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2012 Audi A3

Used 2012 Audi A3 Overview

The Used 2012 Audi A3 is offered in the following submodels: A3 Wagon, A3 Diesel. Available styles include 2.0 TDI Premium 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl Turbodiesel 6AM), 2.0T PZEV Premium 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), 2.0T Premium quattro 4dr Wagon AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), 2.0T PZEV Premium 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), 2.0T Premium 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), and 2.0T Premium 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM).

What's a good price on a Used 2012 Audi A3?

Price comparisons for Used 2012 Audi A3 trim styles:

  • The Used 2012 Audi A3 2.0T Premium is priced between $9,998 and$9,998 with odometer readings between 106379 and106379 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2012 Audi A3s are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2012 Audi A3 for sale near. There are currently 1 used and CPO 2012 A3s listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $9,998 and mileage as low as 106379 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2012 Audi A3.

Can't find a used 2012 Audi A3s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Audi A3 for sale - 7 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $20,818.

Find a used Audi for sale - 4 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $8,983.

Find a used certified pre-owned Audi A3 for sale - 10 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $13,570.

Find a used certified pre-owned Audi for sale - 5 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $18,522.

Should I lease or buy a 2012 Audi A3?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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