2017 Audi A3 Review
Pros & Cons
- Cabin offers the kind of high-end design you expect in a luxury brand car and doesn't skimp on materials
- Fuel-efficient engine still delivers respectable thrust
- Manages corners and bumps equally well
- Top crash test scores
- Can't fit more than a weekend's worth of luggage in the truck
- Average-size adults will feel cramped in the backseat
Edmunds' Expert Review
The 2017 Audi A3 brings a genuine luxury vibe to the entry-level class. In contrast, others in the segment feel more like a dressed-up compact. The A3's turbocharged engine delivers good thrust and commendable fuel efficiency, and its ride quality with the standard 17-inch all-season tires is very well composed. Another sign of its refinement is that cabin noise levels remain pleasantly civilized on the highway. Opting for 18-inch or 19-inch tires (as we did on the Edmunds.com long-term A3 2.0 TFSI) results in more noise and a busier ride.
Though its available steering-wheel shift paddles give the driver more control, the dual-clutch automatic transmission is suitably responsive when left to its own devices. And when the fun's over, the A3's tidy size makes easy work of parking in tight spaces.
Its steering effort at low speeds is overly light but feels appropriately weighted and precise when the A3 is driven with spirit. Its athleticism is magnified with the larger summer tires, which deliver more cornering grip and sharper reactions to driver inputs.
Despite being the lowest rung on the automaker’s ladder, the 2017 A3's styling inside and out bears unmistakable resemblance to its bigger and more expensive brothers. In the cabin, precise-feeling knobs and buttons, unique air vents and leather touchpoints set the tone for the experience. Unlike in other entry-level luxury sedans, there's little in the A3’s cabin that looks or feels low-rent.
The optional navigation system comes with a larger central display screen and a revised, touch-sensitive control knob. This allows you to enter commands by simply scribbling them with your finger. Though it sounds odd, the touchpad works surprisingly well in practice. This system also includes Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, an expanded, configurable instrument cluster that can display map data with brilliant clarity. Other controls for the stereo and other systems might take some time to get used to, especially if you're used to a car with traditional dash-mounted buttons. Fortunately, the addition of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for 2017 makes smartphone integration that much easier.
Front seat occupants will enjoy an agreeable amount of space and comfort. Though average-sized adults will fit in the backseat, they won’t find a lot of wiggle room. Sure, the A3’s backseat is more accommodating than the Mercedes CLA-Class' but it pales in comparison to those of the Acura ILX or other slightly larger sedans, such as the A4. Things get even more squeezed back there in the A3 convertible. It’s a place best left for children.
Cargo space is also limited. The sedan has a puny 10-cubic-foot trunk when equipped with all-wheel drive (the front-wheel-drive A3 offers 12.3 cubic feet), and it manages to hold a golf bag or a couple pieces of luggage but not much else. The rear seats do fold down flat to help with loading of longer items, though. The convertible's trunk is essentially the same at 9.9 cubic feet.