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The Top Gear car review:Audi A3
For:Advanced chassis, breadth of abilities
Against:Looks just like the old one, myriad options will baffle you
What is it?
If you’re thinking the latest Audi A3 looks just like the very long-running model it replaced a few years back, then join the club. This is Audi doing what Audi always does: design evolution rather than revolution.
It’s a very purist way of doing things, which relies on people having the patience to give it time. Then, the crisper appearance becomes clear. A frequent entrant in the UK top ten best-seller charts, this facelifted Audi A3 reviewed here is sure to build on its predecessors’ successes.
Following the Vorsprung Durch Technik mantra, the interesting stuff is hidden beneath the surface. This third generation A3 debuts the new Volkswagen Group MQB platform, upon which around 10 million cars a year will be built.
It’s clever, highly flexible and features some technical jewels that help make the A3 much more premium-feel than before. They don’t come cheap but do help distinguish the A3 from mainstream alternatives. This flexibility also means Audi’s been able to offer more variants on top of the three-door hatchback and five-door Sportback; you can now have a two-door cabriolet or, for those who think the A4 has become too big (or miss the Vauxhall Belmont), four-door A3 Saloon. And don’t forget the A3 e-tron hybrid, if you’re after something you can plug in and drive silently.
Want something faster? There’s the deceptively quick, really rather subtle S3 and the boisterous and wonderfully five-cylindered RS3, the latter with close to 400bhp for some genuine supercar-scaring pace. Both come as either a hatch or saloon.