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

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

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. 

Most Popular

Visit/mclaren/203105/five-mclaren-senna-gtr-lms-in-le-mans-liveries-revealed
McLaren Senna

Five McLaren Senna GTR LMs in Le Mans liveries revealed

Celebrating 25 years since McLaren’s domination of the 1995 Le Mans 24hr with the F1 GTR
18 Sep 2020
Visit/bmw/1-series/203095/bmw-128ti-revealed-as-direct-hot-hatch-rival-to-vw-golf-gti
BMW 1 Series

BMW 128ti revealed as direct hot hatch rival to VW Golf GTI

BMW has revealed a simplified front-wheel drive hot 1-series called 128ti that will sit below the M135i performance flagship
16 Sep 2020
Visit/nissan/370z/201879/nissan-z-proto-revealed-v6-twin-turbo-six-speed-manual-and-a-catch
Nissan 370Z

Nissan Z Proto revealed – V6 twin-turbo, six-speed manual, and a catch

It’s the Nissan sports car we’ve been waiting 11 years for, but don’t hold your breath for it in the UK
16 Sep 2020
Visit/best-cars/203098/the-worlds-10-best-gt-cars-6-4
Best cars

The world's 10 best GT cars - 6-4

These cars have the ability to make long-distance journeys relaxing while still being able to thrill on a twisting road
16 Sep 2020