In case you're not familiar with the A3, the fact that it's Audi's best selling car should tell you everything you need to know. Launched in 1996, the car is now in its third generation and looks perhaps surprisingly modern for its age. Refinements in this latest model include new headlights and tail-lights, a sharper, broader grille, and a host of new tech. As critics continue to note, the car is one of the best in the sector and its fit and finish remains unrivalled - not bad for a 20-year-old!
Given that the A3 fostered the modern love of hatchbacks, its no wonder that Audi continue to put a great deal of effort into keeping it up to date, and drivers will benefit from the intensive attention the marque has paid to its refinement over the last two decades.
Our five door Audi A3 Sportback S Line is almost the dictionary definition of a well-rounded, well-priced premium family hatchback. Hire our shining black model to discover the benefits delivered from the punchy engine, sleek design and beautifully built, practical interior.
Our A3 comes with the VW group's much loved 2.0 TDI diesel with 148bhp, coupled to a six-speed manual gearbox. Its popularity is justified by its strong revs, muscular mid-range feel and strong fuel economy. It packs a punch, powering you from 0-62MPH in 8.6 seconds and delivering the capacity for top speeds of 135MPH.
Our S Line model has lowered sports suspension, delivering a stiffened ride that is taut and responsive, with excellent grip and little body roll. This is accompanied by accurate steering that's well weighted and available in a variety of different modes, as well as slick gear changes from the manual box.
As well as a precise, enjoyable driving experience, the Audi A3 also offers a great deal of ride comfort. The car is exceptionally quiet, and passengers will be more than more than happy with the level of comfort that exists no matter what the road surface.
The Audi A3 is an exceptionally safe vehicle, with stability control and an engine immobiliser as standard, as well as a five star NCAP rating. Moreover it's a pleasure to drive and to be in, making it a wonderful choice for family outings or a courtesy car for those special clients or colleagues.
The cabin of the Audi A3 is continually described as best in class by critics, and it won't take you long to see why. There's an exceptional air of quality and solidity to the materials that you just don’t find elsewhere, while little upgrades in this version: such as the updated steering wheel and new LED interior lighting, only add to the premium feel.
For the driver there is added comfort through the extra-supportive S Line seats, which come with more padded side bolsters and have a wide range of adjustments. The dashboard, meanwhile, is pure simplicity to use, with all the major switches clearly labelled and easy to reach.
Infotainment is delivered through Audi's Multi Media Interface (MMI), which allows you to control the A3's functions through a central control dial and a small collection of buttons situated between the front seats. The information is displayed on a 7 inch unit mounted in the centre of the dashboard, which slides down into the fascia when it's not needed. Music lovers can tune into the DAB digital radio, or play their own music through devices linked to the USB socket or Bluetooth functionality.
The Audi A3 has been slightly face-lifted, but still retains its iconic lines. Changes that those acquainted with the models are likely to recognise are a widened grille and redesigned lights, as well as the altered bumper, beefier diffuser and new 18-inch alloy wheels. Thanks to our car's S Line specification the vehicle also has a sportier lower bumper with extra air intakes, alongside scrolling LED indicators at the back.
Overall, the car has a classic and sporty yet solid look that will look the part in a variety of different situations. Its powerful lines are distinguished and hint to the muscular performance available from the 2 litre diesel engine.
Although it's a hatchback the A3 Sportback delivers a healthy amount of boot space, with over 300 litres on offer.
The materials are of a high quality throughout the cabin, so much so that you might believe you're riding in a luxury saloon. Burnished aluminium, soft plastics and luxurious fabrics abound, and the cabin is so spacious thanks to the Sportback's relatively long wheelbase that even taller passengers are unlikely to complain. Four people can travel in this car with ease, although for five we'd recommend looking at other options in the Signature fleet. Storage is also ample, with the central armrest and door pockets in particular providing large areas of space.