Skip advert
Advertisement
In-depth reviews

Audi A3 – ride and handling

Never class leading, the new A3’s hardware works well enough, but its calibration still leaves something to be desired 

Evo rating
Price
from £28,650
  • Able chassis, low kerbweight, basic ergonomics are right
  • Ride and refinement severely lacking, interior quality a big step backwards

Thanks to its well-trodden MQB underpinnings that have gone on to spread across most transverse-engined models in the Volkswagen Group, the A3 drives well on the whole.

The A3 makes use of a macpherson strut front suspension design, with either a torsion bar or multilink rear axle. Most UK-market will feature the multilink setup, but while some markets are able to combine the S-line body with standard suspension, UK S-line models are all fitted with the sports suspension setup, which fits taughter dampers and springs that give a 15mm drop in ride height. 

Advertisement - Article continues below

Rather than feeling like a nuanced and considered recalibration of the dampers to better control the bigger wheel size, the A3’s setup lacks much sophistication. Body control is impressive, but the ride has deteriorated to a point that on broken roads it renders the changes detrimental to its actual roadholding. Refinement is also oddly lacking, while wind and powertrain noise is superbly suppressed, the suspension makes a racket from beneath you over bumps.

The steering is remote, but build speed and the weighting goes a little over the top, feeling firm but still dead, which does nothing to build confidence in the corners. Overall grip is impressive so too the underlying balance, but the A3’s setup feels undercooked atop of what are fundamentally impressive underpinnings.

Having such a spread of mechanically identical rivals able to be compared on a like-for-like basis reveals the A3 to be the least impressive so far – a Golf is more refined and relaxed, the Octavia longer-legged and the Leon striking an impressive balance of dynamics and composure. The Audi is the most unresolved, uncomfortable and in all honesty feels the cheaper sibling.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

Lotus Elise S2 v Toyota MR2 Mk3 v Porsche Boxster S 987: The best affordable mid-engined sports cars
Used mid-engined bargains
Group tests

Lotus Elise S2 v Toyota MR2 Mk3 v Porsche Boxster S 987: The best affordable mid-engined sports cars

Everyone should own a mid-engined car at least once in their life, and the S2 Elise, Mk3 MR2 and 987 Boxster S are brilliant places to start
15 Jun 2024
Bugatti Tourbillon revealed – the 1775bhp, V16-engined Chiron successor is here
Bugatti Tourbillon – front
News

Bugatti Tourbillon revealed – the 1775bhp, V16-engined Chiron successor is here

With a naturally aspirated V16, a new carbon chassis and a 273mph top speed Bugatti’s latest hypercar has the GMA T.50 in its sights
20 Jun 2024
Porsche Cayenne GTS 2024 review – the SUV that might get you out of an RS6
Porsche Cayenne GTS – front
Reviews

Porsche Cayenne GTS 2024 review – the SUV that might get you out of an RS6

The new Cayenne model offensive continues with the introduction of the GTS, the sweet-spot in the line-up.
18 Jun 2024