• 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

There’s very little that’s actually wrong here, but that’s a long way from saying the chassis is exactly as it should be.

It should first be said that Audi should be commended in making this A3 ride like no other A3 in history. All the old shimmer and shake over rough surfaces has gone, replaced by a silken fluency much closer to what you might hope from a limousine than what you might have expected from most Audis of the recent and not so recent past.

Matt Prior

Road test editor
There is not the deftness of damping to render it immune to mid-corner bumps

At low speed there’s still a little patter over rougher surfaces but nothing you’d not find in its leading competitors.

So Audi has fixed one of the A3’s traditional dynamic weaknesses. Sadly the other remains, at least in part. The new car is a more capable cross country runner offering both improved accuracy and body control, but it’s still not an actively fun car to drive.

While Audi may share its MQB underpinnings with VW, SEAT and Skoda, it is free to tune it any way it sees fit, so it perhaps no surprise seeing it prioritise stability over agility and ride over handling. Driving the A3 fast is at best a mildly pleasurable and only fleetingly diverting experience. You might enjoy a run up a decent road in the car but it’s hard to see it tempting you to seek one out or remembering it for long thereafter.

The steering lacks feel, the chassis the kind of throttle adjustability to encourage committing to a corner.

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