• 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

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.

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