Since then, rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz have tried to play copycat with their 1 Series hatchback and A-Class, but the originator of the class has not been standing still. The Audi A3 of today has enough technology, luxury and a variety of colours to leave its rivals gasping for air.
Despite being one of Audi's most affordable models, the A3 is available with some pretty cutting edge technology from the brand. Examples of this include the Virtual Cockpit, which gives you a crystal-clear digital display instead of your regular analogue speedo and tacho. It can be configured to how you like, even able to display satellite navigation maps.
Audi's media control system allows you to make selections on the move without taking your eyes off the road. It even recognises handwriting from your fingertips. The steering wheel with buttons at your thumb-tips, cruise control stalk and ultra-comfortable seats make this an unmistakably Audi experience. Every button you touch sends impulses of delight to your brain.
If that's not enough to make it your home away from home, there are many options available, including Bang and Olufsen sound system, digital radio, electric panoramic sunroof, electric front seats, heated seats, sports suspension, automatic parking assistance, 18-inch alloys and much more.
There's just something about the way Audis are designed that sets them apart on the road. They just have such confident lines, as if they were carved from a solid chunk of aluminium or silver. The A3 is no exception, with its bold grille, excellent shape and stylish wheel arches.
There are three different body styles for the Audi A3, a five-door hatchback, a smart and suave four-door sedan and a sassy convertible for soaking up the sun in Summer. Which ever model you go for, there's a 5 star ANCAP safety rating. There's a choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed dual clutch automatic, with fun paddles for when you're feeling frisky.
When it comes to colours, the Audi A3 really gives you a lot of choice. There are many different shades, including Brilliant Black, Mythos Black, Ara Blue, Cosmos Blue, Beluga Brown, Monsoon Grey, Nano Grey, Tango Red, Florett Silver, Glacier White, Ibis White and bold Vegas Yellow.
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In its 21 years of existence, the Audi A3 hasn't lost its magic appeal that helped it cut through and disrupt the market in the mid 1990s. New technological additions give you the feeling you're in a genuine prestige German car, rather than just paying through the nose for a bare-bones entry level with a posh badge. This one has the substance in every measurable department with a conviction and thoroughness to it that will keep you happy long after initial purchase.
5 specs you need to know:
- Engine: 1.0-litre turbo three-cylinder
- Transmission and drive: Five-speed manual or seven-speed dual clutch, front-wheel drive
- ANCAP safety rating: Five Stars
- Official fuel economy: 4.8L/100km (6.1L/100km)
- 0-100km/h as tested: 11.7 seconds.
- New 1.0-litre engine is a delight, with optional 2.0
- Class benchmark interior
- Packed to the rafters with standard tech
- Bit more road noise than we'd expect from premium vehicle
- CD player absent
- Seats not as supportive as some rivals