Audi’s formula of mild visual evolution cloaking total transformation under the skin is likely to prove a canny choice.

The fact is the old A3 was able to dominate the class without ever being close to its best car. Dramatically improving the product while providing the reassurance of a familiar face requiring existing customers to make no great leaps of faith should ensure their continued patronage.

Matt Prior

Road test editor
Superb interior and low costs of ownership mean you can’t ignore the A3. Souless to drive

For ourselves, admire the new A3 as we do, we’d have preferred Audi to have been a little more audacious.

It could have kept the style but sexed up the substance a little to provide an appeal that might tempt not only existing customers back to the ranks but prospects who might now either return to their 1-series or take a longer look at the Mercedes A-class.

As it stands, the stronger impression left by the A3 even than how clearly good it is, is how much better even than that it could and perhaps should have been.

Top 5 Premium hatches

  • BMW i3
    Two versions of the BMW i3 are on sale: a pure electric model or a range-extender variant

    BMW i3

    1
  • Audi A3 Sportback
    All Audi A3s feature multi-link rear suspension, denied to some other MQB-based VW Group cars

    Audi A3 Sportback

    2
  • Volvo V40
    The new Volvo V40 is the Swedish firm's sleek and sporty-looking answer to the VW Golf, A3 Sportback and BMW 1-series

    Volvo V40

    3
  • The second generation 'more grown-up' Mini Clubman

    Mini Clubman

    4
  • BMW 1 Series
    BMW 1 Series gets nip-and-tuck treatment for 2015

    BMW 1 Series

    5

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI 150 S tronic
    First Drive
    29 May 2016
    We head to Havana to find out how the new Audi Q2 is shaping up ahead of its November launch
  • Seat Leon 1.4 EcoTSI FR Titanium
    First Drive
    27 May 2016
    High-spec new Titanium FR trim is temptingly good value, particularly on the semi-enthusiastic 1.4 EcoTSI petrol
  • Kia Niro
    First Drive
    27 May 2016
    The Kia Niro will be one of the greenest cars in the compact crossover class when it goes on sale later this year. We drive it to see what else it has to offer
  • Car review
    27 May 2016
    Can the turbocharged successor to the 458 raise the bar again?
  • Car review
    27 May 2016
    The big-in-every-way Bentley SUV lands. We assess the impact