• As it stands, the A3 accounts for every fifth Audi registered worldwide
  • Chunky, steeply raked C-pillars are a design hallmark of the three-door A3 but they cut into rearward visibility a little
  • The reshaped headlights, with LED ‘eyebrow’ running lights, echoes the look of Audi’s bigger models
  • Rear lights are fed by LEDs but illuminated by reflected rather than direct light for a more emollient look
  • Twin exhaust tips are standard Sport model attire
  • The seats offer a low driving position for those who want one and provide plenty of adjustment and support
  • Entry and egress are awkward in this three-door car, but the amount of rear cabin space is respectable once you're settled in
  • New A3’s 365-litre boot is 15 litres bigger than the outgoing model’s and its false floor is flush with the load lip
  • There’s a lot of space in the front
  • The seven-inch motorised display is clear, bright and detailed. Points of interest database is easy to access, too
  • Intrument panel is smart and easy to read
  • In third gear, the A3 dispatches every 20mph increment between 20mph and 70mph in comfortably less than 5.0sec, which is brisk
  • We passed 60mph in 8.9sec, 0.3sec behind the time Audi says it should take to reach 62mph - a margin of no great importance
  • 148bhp 2.0-litre TDI returned an impressive 47.5mpg overall and we’d expect most owners to do even better
  • Ride is relatively compliant, even in lowered Sport trim
  • Because this is a diesel, turn-in is not as sharp as the best petrol-powered cars in the class, but it’s keen enough
  • Audi A3 outclasses the premium hatch pack on everything except the drive

If you’re not already, get used to the acronym ‘MQB’. Volkswagen’s ultra-flexible, lightweight, part aluminium part high strength steel modular platform is rolling out across all VW’s mainstream brands. It’s light, it’s strong and as easy to turn into a large saloon as a small hatchback.

For Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and Seat it brings unprecedented economies of scale. It will save them vast amounts of money over the lifetime of the platform as its engineering costs are amortised over so much time and so many other products.

Matt Prior

Road test editor
One tester said the cabin reminded him of his iPod, in that it combines technical sophistication with simpler control logic — fewer buttons and dials, not more. It’s rare in that regard — unique, even

For you, the quality hatchback prospector, compared to the old Audi A3, MQB removes 80kg from the weight of the structure, improves crash safety and liberates more interior space.

Over it, Audi has draped a shape so utterly familiar you can park a new Audi A3 next to the old and not only struggle to tell one from the other but, once your eyes have picked out the myriad differences, still not be entirely sure which is the new car.

Excluding the 296bhp Audi S3, there are two petrol engines, a 104bhp 1.2-litre motor and a 1.4 with either 120bhp or 177bhp. There is a single output for each of the diesels: a 104bhp 1.6-litre or 148bhp 2.0-litre engine.

Predictably enough suspension is by McPherson struts at the front and a fully independent multi-link rear axle for all versions, rather than just the expensive models like the Golf upon which it is based. There are three states of suspension tune, standard, sport and S-Line though the last of these is available only with the top of the range S-Line trim.

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