QsFMZOBx Audi A3
Audi A3

Pre-loved: Audi A3 2008–2021

1997 Audi A3 Hatchback 3 Door
1997 Audi A3 Hatchback 3-Door


German automaker Audi is often ahead of the pack when it comes to new ideas.

In Europe the Audi A3 is often used as a family car, but in Australia it’s more likely to be bought by singles or couples.

The A3 created quite a commotion when it was first released in the small car market way back in 1997.

Some felt prestige cars should be large, imposing and expensive – certainly not small and relatively affordable. 

They were wrong and Audi has since been joined by other prestige marques.

In May 2013 the Audi A3 gen-three arrived downunder.

It was slightly larger than the gen two of 2004, which in turn was larger than the original A3 of 1997.

Audi stylists have stuck with the original successful shape over the years. 

Differences are obvious when the generations are viewed side by side but the timeless lines make for good resale value. 

The current (fourth generation) A3 arrived here in early-2022 so is still quite scarce on the used car market. We’ll cover it in a later checkout.

Audi A3 is sold in just about every imaginable body type, though not all are offered at any one time. 

There’s a two-door convertible/cabriolet, three- and five-door hatchback (Sportback in Audi speak) and four-door sedan.

The five-door is almost station wagon in its rear and many buyers choose it because it looks smooth and can carry a decent load.

Four adults can get comfortable in most A3s, but two plus two children is a more practical load. 

Rear-seat access is in the three-door because the front seat design means it moves well out of the way.

The convertible uses and old-style soft top which we reckon is much nicer than a boring folding hardtop.

It can carry four adults if they don’t mind doing some serious compromising on legroom.

Handling is very good, though there is perhaps just a little too much understeer at the limit to suit the full-on driving enthusiast.

Engine choices are many and varied. Most engines are four-cylinder units but Audi’s fascinating five-cylinder turbo-diesel, sold from 2008 till 2010, is an interesting exception. 

A big capacity 3.2-litre V6 petrol quattro was first imported in 2004 and ran through till 2010. 

It has a huge amount of get-up-and-go in a relatively light car. 

Then there’s the Audi A3 e-tron Sportback – a plug-in, petrol-electric, hybrid that arrived here in 2014. 

It uses a 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine giving up to 110kW of power and 250Nm of torque and an electric motor which produces up to 75kW and 330Nm. 

The e-tron isn’t cheap and you probably can’t justify it on the ground of your budget, but those who want to minimise climate change love it.

Power in most standard Audi A3 models is transmitted to the front wheels, the high-performance models have the company’s quattro all-wheel-drive system. 

Quattro is also offered in some other models.

Audi S3 is a performance variant and Audi RS3 is a full-on hot-hatch with everything that means in the way of stunning performance. 

Its handling is nicely sorted out and it remains neutral if driven correctly, high-performance drivers love it.

Spare parts and servicing are reasonably priced for this class. 

However, if you are moving up to an Audi from an Asian or lower priced European for the first-time check on parts and servicing costs or you might get a scare.

Check your insurance company about their attitude to the Audi S3 and RS3 variants. 

Some charge premiums that can add significantly to the purchase price of an older used car.

2008 Audi S3 Sportback
2008 Audi S3 Sportback



Uneven tyre wear, particularly at the front, probably means an A3 has been driven hard. 
This is more likely in one of the high-performance models, but check even the basic cars as A3s seem to attract press-on drivers.
Tyre wear may also mean one of the wheels is out of alignment after a crash, but a hard thump against a kerb can give the same result.
If in doubt, get a professional opinion.
If the engine hesitates under hard acceleration in older A3s there may be computer problems.
Chances are these have been sorted out by now, but check with the Audi dealer you’re buying from, or contact Audi online.
During your test drive check that an automatic transmission doesn’t hunt up and down the gears when climbing moderate hills with light to medium throttle openings.
Body repairs are most easily spotted by sighting along panels in a strong light to see if there are ripples in the metal.
If there’s any doubt have a professional do a full inspection, preferably while the Audi’s up on a hoist.
Look over the interior and luggage area for signs of damage, particularly in the Sportbacks as many have begun their lives as reps cars.
2013 Audi S3 Sportback
2013 Audi S3 Sportback



Expect to spend from $4000 to $8000 for a 2008 A3 Ambition Sportback; $6000 to $9000 for a 2011 Ambition Sportback, $9000 to $14,000 for a 2010 Attraction Cabriolet or a 2015 Attraction Sportback; $10,000 to $16,000 for a 2014 Ambition sedan; $13,000 to $19,000 for a 2011 S3 Sportback; $17,000 to $24,000 for a 2016 A3 Sportback; $20,000 to $29,000 for a 2018 e-Tron; $22,000 to $30,000 for a 2018 A3 Sportback; and $31,000 to $43,000 for a 2019 A3 S Line.
2016 Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.4 TFSI
2016 A3 Cabriolet 1.4 TFSI



Used car prices have generally increased during the period of new car stock shortages so hunt around for the best deal.

Start looking at adverts for used vehicles several months before you intend buying.

That way you can see the prices being asked and whether they are rising and falling as dealers need to clear stock due to overcrowding.

Keep an eye on adverts for new cars that say there are specials on particular models.

These can mean a lot of traded-in cars are taking up too much space in the yards and will be discounted to get rid of them.

If checking a used car at a dealership look at other cars on the lot. 

This can give you an insight to the quality of vehicles in which the dealer specialises.

If buying privately ask for proof of ownership of the vehicle and make sure it is covered for you taking a test drive.

Take a slow walk around any car you’re considering, looking for obvious defects.

It amuses us how many people dive into tiny details, only to later discover a major ding somewhere on the other side of the car.

Ideally any road test of a car you’re getting serious about should be done with the engine stone cold. Early morning is best.

If you’re serious about buying a vehicle, tell the seller you would like to take it for a good long test drive.

If they insist on coming that’s understandable, but try to avoid them ‘selling” the car to you.

Put bluntly, ask them to shut up,

In their later years, cars with a reputation for being long lived and trouble free sometimes attract buyers who have no intention of ever servicing them.

The next owner may suffer as a result.

2021 Audi A3 Sedan
2021 Audi A3 Sedan



To browse recalls on all vehicles go to the ACCC at: www.productsafety.gov.au/products/transport/cars/



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