The e-tron plug-in hybrid is the standard bearer for economy and emissions, but it’s huge money. At the more sensible end of the price spectrum the A3 has plenty of choice if you’ve an eye on the fuel gauge, and it’s not all based around the TDI turbodiesels, either.
The 1.5-litre TFSI is available in its 147bhp guise with CoD (Cylinder on Demand) which shuts the engine down two cylinders when they’re not needed. It’s neatly integrated, indeed, its operation would be all but imperceptible if it wasn’t for the notification in the central instrument display between the rev counter and speedometer. That allows CO2 emission of just 112g/km and an official combined consumption figure of 57.6mpg in the manual - the auto delivering better economy and slightly less emissions.
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That beats the most powerful 2.0 TDI quattro S tronic’s mpg (57.6mpg, with CO2 of 129g/km), the economy champion among ordinary A3s being the 1.6TDI with the six-speed manual transmission. It brings a road tax avoiding 103g/km of CO2 and an official combined consumption figure of 72.4mpg.
The 1-litre model is also worth a look if you want a frugal runaround but don't want the extra cost and potential issues down the line of diesel: Whether manual or S tronic, it hits 62.8mpg without any cylinder-deactivation trickery, and emits 104g/km of CO2.
Use the Audi Drive Select efficiency mode and on S tronic automatic equipped models it’ll allow the A3 to coast, which allows them to claw back a couple of extra MPG on the combined consumption cycle.
Flexible servicing makes for relatively inexpensive running costs, Audi offering fixed monthly pricing for £13 for servicing alone for three years, between £17.50 and £20.83 - depending on model - for servicing and maintenance and up to £31 for a package including tyres. The A3’s popularity used, and the draw of that premium badge and low CO2 emissions mean it’s as cheap, and often cheaper, to lease or run through the company as its mainstream competition.