2018 Audi A3

2018 Audi A3 Review

The A3 maintains its position as one of the most desirable entry-level luxury compact sedans.
4.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Jason Kavanagh
Edmunds Editor

The latest-generation A3 debuted in 2015 and marked a departure from the generation it replaced, eschewing the hatchback body style for sedan and convertible body styles. It then received a modest face-lift in 2017.

The A3 debuted just one year after the debut of the Mercedes CLA-Class, marking the dawn of a new entry-level era among German automakers. BMW has yet to introduce a sedan in the vein of the others, instead doing battle with its rear-wheel-drive 2 Series coupe.

The A3 Cabriolet models lose the roof but gain reinforcements elsewhere to shore up the structure. In the bargain they gained about 250 pounds compared to their sedan counterparts. The power-folding top is fully lined, but its narrow rear window and large, unbroken swaths of fabric obscure visibility.

Under the skin, the A3 is closely related to the Volkswagen Golf. That's no bad thing, as both are quite accomplished compact cars. Be aware that it's possible to option up an A3 to an eye-watering degree. At some point, buyers might consider an A4 over a heavily optioned A3.



what's new

For 2018, the A3 receives only minor changes to equipment availability. Two USB ports and heated front seats are now standard on all A3s, and blind-spot monitoring is standard on the Premium Plus trim levels.

we recommend

While the A3 Cabriolet is an eye-catcher, many buyers will be well-served by the A3 sedan. We recommend the Quattro variant not solely for its all-wheel drive but for the nice bump in power it delivers over the front-wheel-drive version. Keep it simple, staying with the base Premium trim, to prevent the price from creeping up to A4 levels. The Convenience package has a lot of bang for the buck, and the Sport package's upgraded seats and selectable drive modes make it a worthwhile choice, too.

trim levels & features

The 2018 Audi A3 is offered in four-door sedan and two-door convertible (Cabriolet) body styles. Both are available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The trim levels are named Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige in Audi speak, which are listed in order of increasing content.

Front-wheel-drive A3 models have a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (186 hp, 221 lb-ft) and a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. These models have a fuel economy edge over their all-wheel-drive brothers to the tune of 2 mpg (EPA combined). All-wheel-drive variants (Quattro) have a similar engine, but a few changes elevate its gumption to a more robust 220 hp and 258 lb-ft. Perhaps paradoxically, Quattro variants have one fewer gear in their dual-clutch automatic transmissions than do front-wheel-drive models. Despite this and their inevitably heavier weights (160 pounds for sedans; 200 pounds for convertibles), Quattro models handily out-accelerate their front-wheel-drive counterparts. No manual gearbox is available on any flavor of A3.

The base Premium is well-equipped, sporting features such as leather upholstery, a backup camera, dual-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof, forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, a 10-speaker sound system, heated front seats and an eight-way power driver seat with power lumbar adjustment. Cabriolet models are similar but have a power-folding soft top, a nine-speaker sound system and six-way power front seats with lumbar.

For a reasonable sum, Premium Plus adds a mix of cosmetics and worthwhile convenience features such as 18-inch wheels, an eight-way power passenger seat with lumbar, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, keyless ignition and entry, parking sensors, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. These models also gain a dose of exterior appearance items such as revised bumpers, side sill extensions and illuminated aluminum front door sills.

The Prestige goes all out with power-folding mirrors, LED headlights, an expanded Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster, navigation, a Bang & Olufsen premium audio system and a host of driver assistance features (including lane departure warning, adaptive cruise, automatic high beams).

Some of the features found on the Premium Plus and Prestige can be added to the lower trims as options.

trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2015 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro Sedan (turbo 2.0L inline-4 | 7-speed dual-clutch automatic | AWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current A3 has received some revisions, including a host of new driver assistance and cabin features. Our findings remain applicable to this year's A3, however.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.5 / 5.0

Driving

5.0 / 5.0

Acceleration5.0 / 5.0
Braking5.0 / 5.0
Steering4.0 / 5.0
Handling5.0 / 5.0
Drivability5.0 / 5.0

Comfort

4.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort3.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort4.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration4.0 / 5.0

Interior

3.5 / 5.0

Ease of use5.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out2.5 / 5.0
Driving position2.5 / 5.0
Visibility5.0 / 5.0
Quality5.0 / 5.0

Utility

3.0 / 5.0

Small-item storage3.0 / 5.0
Cargo space2.5 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
With 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, the A3 provides plenty of power to accelerate with purpose yet still returns good fuel economy figures. Handling is noteworthy, with a direct feel and cornering that's both entertaining and reassuring.

acceleration

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There's some hesitation from a standstill, but once under way thrust from the turbocharged four-cylinder is impressive, reaching 60 mph in an impressively quick 5.8 seconds. The all-wheel-drive system gives plenty of grip.

braking

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Around town the A3 has natural-feeling brake weighting and responses. Easy to modulate. In panic braking, there's little nosedive and the car tracks straight. It needed 118 feet to stop from 60 mph, which is better than average for the class and remained consistent after several runs.

steering

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Steering effort is light, making parking lot maneuvers easy, but still conveys direct feedback to the driver. On winding roads, it is predictably precise and further instills confidence.

handling

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The A3 feels light and athletic in curves. The AWD system makes the most of available grip, and the well-tuned suspension gives it a balanced, reassuring feel.

drivability

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The A3 is easy to maneuver in tight spaces thanks to its light steering. It tackles the everyday commute with ease.

comfort

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This is the kind of front-seat comfort we've come to expect from larger and more expensive sedans. Furthermore, the A3 manages this without sacrificing performance. The rear seats are cramped, but no more than those of other cars in this class.

seat comfort

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The front seats are roomy and comfortable even after several hours of touring. They do lack some side bolstering, though. Rear-seat space is restrictive and suitable for smaller passengers only.

ride comfort

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The A3 has a compliant ride that smooths over most road imperfections. Larger undulations can cause some jostling, though.

noise & vibration

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Road and wind noise is detectable on the highway, but it's never intrusive, even on rough pavement. There's some clattering engine noise at startup, but the idle quickly smooths out.

interior

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Like all Audis, the A3 sports an austere interior design, and that's a good thing. Tasteful aluminum accents, excellent materials quality and a generous features list make this car feel anything but entry-level.

ease of use

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The controls are placed exactly where you'd expect them, especially the MMI controller with handwriting recognition. The central screen rises from the dash for easy viewing, with sharp graphics and intuitive menus.

getting in/getting out

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Front-seat access is easy even in tight spaces thanks to a tall opening and doors that aren't too long. Rear access is decidedly less simple, requiring some twisting and stooping to get in.

driving position

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The front seats are roomy enough for taller passengers, but the rear seats lack the head- and legroom needed for the average adult. Only small folks will be comfortable back there.

visibility

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Forward visibility is excellent thanks to narrow roof pillars — a rarity in modern cars. Rear visibility is good enough that you could get by without the optional backup camera.

quality

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All interior surfaces in the A3 are well textured for an upscale look and feel. Every knob and switch has a distinct heft and click, and the car just feels sturdy.

utility

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The all-wheel-drive system eats up a decent chunk of the already-smallish trunk space, and cabin storage is at a premium.

small-item storage

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Interior storage is pretty limited, with modestly sized door pockets, console bin and glovebox.

cargo space

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The A3's trunk is the smallest in the class with only a 10-cubic-foot capacity. Large golf bags or long clubs will require folding down the rear seats.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.