Audi A3 review - better than a BMW 1-series? - Ride and Handling

Audi’s posh Golf is a massive sales hit and it’s not difficult to see why, though rivals drive better

Evo rating
Price
from £20,365
  • Beautifully designed, impeccably built and competitively priced premium hatch
  • All just a bit too grown up and sensible, needs a more playful side

The A3 is not going to delight in the same way a BMW 1-series can, but it’s not as distant as your preconceptions might have you think. Three suspension choices are offered (four if you want to option optional Audi Magnetic Ride for £995) standard SE suspension, 15mm lower Sport and S Line sport suspension dropping a further 10mm, the ride deteriorating headlingts with each firmer, lower incarnation.

S line undoubtedly improves the A3’s stance, but the small benefit you might feel in the bends just isn’t worth the large penalties it brings regarding the ride comfort. The Sport is a decent compromise, offering a slightly less crashy, busy ride for a bit more compliance along with a greater degree of control and enthusiasm in corners.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Experience the thrill of driving with evo magazine. Subscribe now and get your first 5 issues for £5 or buy the latest issue in all good newsagents!

Regardless of what trim line you pick Audi will let you default your A3 back to SE suspension specification, which might not do much for your ego, but does wonders for the ride. There’s a bit more body roll as a result, but it’s far from wayward, the A3 actually quite adept at stringing a series of corners together, though it errs towards competence rather than genuine excitement. Grip levels are high, though there’s precious little information through the steering wheel to let you know that, traction fine on the front-wheel drive models and genuinely impressive on the quattros.

Even with all four-wheels driving the A3 never exhibits any of the rearward bias that’s now creeping into Audi’s quattro line-up. There’s no option of Audi’s Sport Differential to help here, either. Sport models and up feature Audi Drive Select, allowing you to alter the steering’s power assistance, as well as accelerator and, on autos, gear shift response, though the incremental changes are very small, the Comfort setting the best all-round choice for everything, Dynamic mode doing little to improve the steering’s response. 

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/porsche/911/201958/porsche-911-gt3-vs-gt3-rs-vs-gt2-rs-track-battle
Porsche 911

Porsche 911 GT3 vs GT3 RS vs GT2 RS - track battle

Porsche’s GT3, GT3 RS and GT2 RS are the most hardcore of the 911 breed, but pitched head‑to‑head which will we crown champion?
15 Nov 2019
Visit/ferrari/201950/new-ferrari-roma-612bhp-198mph-gt-car-joins-the-range
Ferrari

New Ferrari Roma: 612bhp, 198mph GT car joins the range

Ferrari has expanded its GT car range with the V8 powered Ferrari Roma
14 Nov 2019
Visit/buying-advice/19675/used-car-deals-of-the-week
used cars

Best used cars for sale this week

We’ve delved into the classifieds and chosen our favourite cars for sale this week
15 Nov 2019
Visit/hyundai/i30-n-hatchback/201775/hyundai-i30-n-versus-hyundai-i30-tcr
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 N versus Hyundai i30 TCR

Can Dickie Meaden beat Steve Sutcliffe in a straight(ish) race? We sent them to the Circuit Nuvolari with a pair of Hyundai i30 Ns to find out.
20 Sep 2019