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2020 Audi A3 Review

The 2020 Audi A3 ranks in the middle of our luxury small car rankings. It has a well-equipped cabin and a range of powerful engine options, but most of its classmates offer more trunk space and much better predicted reliability ratings.

Pros & Cons

  • Lengthy standard features list
  • Intuitive infotainment system
  • Well-balanced driving dynamics
  • Vigorous engines
  • Below-average predicted reliability rating
  • Small trunk for the class

New for 2020

  • Cabriolet (convertible) body style no longer available
  • Reshuffling of trims, packages, powertrains, and features

Rankings & Research

The 2020 Audi A3's #9 ranking is based on its score within the Luxury Small Cars category. Currently the Audi A3 has a score of 7.8 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 43 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

7.8

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.1
Performance: 8.3
Interior: 6.9
Safety: 9.3
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Is the Audi A3 a Good Car?

The Audi A3 is a good luxury small car. It has a strong base engine, and there are three more-muscular engines to choose from. This Audi also has agile handling, so you can throw it hard into curves. Additionally, the A3 offers a refined ride, comfortable front seats, and a long features list.

The A3’s cabin styling is minimalist and will appeal to some while disappointing others. The biggest issue is the trunk, which is small even for a car in this class.

Should I Buy the Audi A3?

The A3 is an excellent value if you’re seeking an affordable sedan with serious performance chops. It has four robust engine options, a couple of available active suspensions, and optional all-wheel drive. However, many rivals have larger trunks than the A3, and their cabins display a bit more flair. The interior of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, for example, exudes luxury. You should also consider the Audi A4, the A3’s slightly roomier and more upscale sibling.

Compare the A3, C-Class, and A4 »

Should I Buy a New or Used Audi A3?

2020 is the final model year of the A3's current generation, which began with the 2015 A3. Audi drops the cabriolet (convertible) body type for 2020 and makes a few minor changes to trims and features. If you want to buy a new A3, consider holding off until details of the next-generation 2021 A3 are revealed, as it will likely feature a major facelift and noteworthy new features.
If you’re ready to buy now, consider shopping for an older A3 to save some money. We recommend 2017 and newer models. For 2017, Audi replaced the 170-horsepower base engine with a 186-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder, refreshed the MMI infotainment system, and added available Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration.
The 2018 A3 gained standard heated front seats and two USB ports. The 2018 model year also saw the debut of the high-performance RS 3. For 2019, Audi discontinued the A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid, which was introduced for 2016.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2017 A3, 2018 A3, and 2019 A3 reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used vehicles.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2020 A3 »

We Did the Research for You: 43 Reviews Analyzed

We don’t base our car reviews on our personal opinions. Instead, we combine opinions of the automotive press with data such as fuel economy estimates and predicted reliability ratings to give you a comprehensive overview of every vehicle in our rankings.

This 2020 A3 review incorporates applicable research for all models of the current generation, which launched for 2015.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking vehicles since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the automotive industry. Our car reviews are unbiased. To keep them that way, our editorial staff doesn’t accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers, and a third party takes care of our advertising.

How Much Does the Audi A3 Cost?

The 2020 A3 has a base price of $33,300, which is among the lowest starting prices in the class. The S3 starts at $43,000, and the high-end RS 3 starts at $56,200.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Audi dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Audi deals page.

Audi A3 Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Audi A3 or Mercedes-Benz A-Class?

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is another midpack luxury small car, and its base price is about $800 less than the A3’s. Both cars come with lots of features, including high-tech infotainment systems with smartphone integration. They also share some downsides. Both have tiny trunks, though the A-Class’ trunk is smaller than the A3’s. The choice here comes down to preference and budget. If power is what you want, go with the A3. Just know you’ll pay a premium if you upgrade to a more-potent engine. If it’s a classic plush interior and better predicted reliability that draw you, then the Mercedes is the way to go.

Which Is Better: Audi A3 or Volkswagen Arteon?

The only area where the VW Arteon bests the Audi is in cargo space. The Arteon sports a 27-cubic-foot cargo hold, which easily rivals the capacity of a small SUV. Fold down the seats, and you’ll get 55 cubic feet of space. The VW and Audi have similar standard features lists, but the A3 costs about $2,500 less than the Arteon, making it the better value. Add in the Arteon’s lackluster handling, confusing cabin controls, and unrefined interior, and this becomes an easy choice. Take the Audi.

Which Is Better: Audi A3 or BMW 3 Series?

The BMW 3 Series sits a couple of places higher than the A3 in our luxury small car rankings. Both cars offer athletic handling and strong engines. That said, the Audi costs about $7,500 less than the BMW and comes with a few more standard features, like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Bimmer, however, has a much better predicted reliability rating than the Audi.

Compare the A3, A-Class, and Arteon »

A3 Interior

How Many People Does the A3 Seat?

The A3 seats five and comes standard with leather upholstery. Its front seats offer all-day comfort and provide plenty of passenger space. The rear seats may feel cramped for taller occupants, but that’s true of most cars in the class. People of average height will find enough head- and legroom to feel comfortable.

A3 and Child Car Seats

The A3 has two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats, as well as a tether-only connection for the rear middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this LATCH system the second-best rating of Acceptable for ease of use. The tether anchors are easy to find, but the lower anchors can be difficult to maneuver around.

A3 Interior Quality

Like most Audis, the A3 has excellent build quality and offers fine materials. However, the cabin design is minimalist. If that appeals to you, then you’ll appreciate the A3’s clean lines and uncluttered look. If you have a more classic view of what a luxury car should look like inside, there are several more sumptuous and elaborately styled competitors in this class.

A3 Cargo Space

The A3’s 12.3-cubic-foot trunk is one of the smallest in the segment, and that capacity drops to about 10 cubic feet in models equipped with all-wheel drive.

A3 Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features in the A3 include the MMI infotainment system with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, two USB ports, Bluetooth, a 7-inch screen, a 10-speaker audio system, HD Radio, and satellite radio.

Available features include wireless device charging, a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, navigation, and an upgraded MMI infotainment system with MMI touch, which can recognize handwriting. Also available is Audi's Virtual Cockpit. It replaces the traditional instrument cluster with a 12.3-inch digital screen that displays navigation and media info, along with the driver's gauges.

The MMI infotainment interface features a tabletlike retractable screen with crisp graphics and an intuitive menu layout. You can operate it using a touchpad atop a controller knob, which is mounted between the seats. The Virtual Cockpit displays much of the same information as the standard screen, so drivers may find themselves using this display more often.

Read more about interior »

A3 Performance

A3 Engine: 4 Powerhouses

Audi offers the A3 with four potent engine options that deliver quick acceleration. All are mated with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The base 184-horsepower four-cylinder provides more than enough muscle for most drivers. All-wheel-drive models get an extra burst of energy from their 228-horsepower version of this engine.

High-performance Audi S3 and Audi RS 3 trims feature stronger turbocharged engines. The S3’s four-cylinder delivers 288 horsepower, while the RS 3’s five-cylinder generates a whopping 394 horses. The RS 3 can go from zero to 60 mph in about four seconds.

A3 Gas Mileage: Respectable

The front-wheel-drive A3 gets pretty good fuel economy ratings for the class: 27 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. Numbers drop to 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway in models with all-wheel drive, and the performance-oriented S3 gets 22/29 mpg city/highway.

A3 Ride and Handling: Jack of All Trades

The A3’s well-tuned suspension does a good job balancing ride quality and agility. Front-wheel drive is standard, and Audi’s available Quattro all-wheel-drive system gives you extra traction on slippery surfaces.

The available Audi Drive Select system lets you adjust the A3’s performance dynamics. There are four settings: Comfort, Dynamic, Individual, and Auto.

Read more about performance »

A3 Reliability

Is the Audi A3 Reliable?

J.D. Power gives the 2020 A3 a below-average predicted reliability rating of 2.5 out of five.

Audi A3 Warranty

Audi covers the A3 with a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty.

Read more about reliability »

A3 Safety

A3 Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2020 A3 an overall safety rating of five out of five stars. It received five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover evaluations.

The 2020 A3 earned the highest rating of Good in all six crash tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and was named a Top Safety Pick. Headlight ratings vary by trim. The Premium trims received the lowest rating of Poor for how well they illuminate the road ahead, while the Premium Plus trims earned the second-highest rating of Acceptable. In front crash prevention testing, the A3’s standard system earned the top rating of Superior.

A3 Safety Features

Standard active safety features in the A3 include Audi Pre Sense Front, which includes forward collision warning and brake assist, and Audi Pre Sense Basic, which prepares the vehicle for an imminent collision by closing the windows and sunroof, activating the hazard warning lights, and tightening the seat belts. A rearview camera is also standard.

Available driver assistance features include adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, parallel park assist, and Audi Side Assist, a safety package that includes rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring.

Read more about safety »

A3 Dimensions and Weight

The A3 is about 14.8 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,197 to 3,593 pounds.

Where Is the 2020 Audi A3 Built?

Audi builds the 2020 A3 in Germany.

Which Audi A3 Model Is Right for Me?

The A3 and high-performance S3 models are available in two trims: Premium and Premium Plus. The RS 3, another performance-oriented model, comes in just one trim.

The base A3 Premium trim is a good starting point for many buyers. It comes with lots of standard safety and tech features, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. The A3 Premium Plus trim adds a handful of niceties like wireless device charging and rear cross traffic alert. The RS 3 is the beast of the group with a 394-horsepower engine, special sport seats, standard all-wheel drive, and trim-specific design elements.

Additional features like navigation, the upgraded MMI touch infotainment system, and Audi’s Virtual Cockpit are available.

Audi A3 Premium

The A3 Premium has a starting MSRP of $33,300. It comes with a 184-horsepower four-cylinder engine, a seven-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. For $3,200, you can add Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system, which comes with a 228-horsepower version of the base engine.

Standard features include the MMI infotainment system with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a 7-inch screen, a 10-speaker audio system, HD Radio, satellite radio, two USB ports, and Bluetooth.

A panoramic sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather seats, heated front seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with four-way power lumbar adjustment, heated side mirrors, a rearview camera, and forward collision warning are also standard.

Audi A3 Premium Plus

The A3 Premium Plus starts at $36,300. In addition to the base trim's standard features, the Premium Plus comes with wireless device charging, a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround-sound stereo, rear-seat USB ports, high-beam assist, and Audi Side Assist. Also standard is the Park System Plus package, which includes front and rear acoustic sensors.

This trim is also available with the 228-horsepower engine and all-wheel drive for $3,200.

Audi S3

The S3 is the first of two high-performance models. Like the A3, it has two trims: Premium, with a starting MSRP of $43,000, and Premium Plus, which starts at $45,600. Each trim comes with a 288-horsepower turbo-four engine, Quattro all-wheel drive, a sport suspension, progressive steering, and trim-specific interior and exterior badges and styling. The S3 Premium Plus trim includes the same features as the A3 Premium Plus.

Audi RS 3

The Audi RS 3 is the ultimate performance trim in the lineup. It starts at $56,200 and boasts a 394-horsepower turbocharged five-cylinder engine. Standard features include an RS-tuned magnetic ride suspension, S-branded sport seats with embossing and contrast diamond stitching, Nappa leather upholstery, LED headlights with dynamic turn signals, and model-specific styling.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Audi dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Audi deals page.

See 2020 Audi A3 specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2020 Audi A3 is a solid luxury small car that will appeal to shoppers who enjoy engaging handling and a comfortable ride. With four engine options and available adaptive suspensions, the A3 lets you find the type of drive and ride experience that best matches your needs. It trails class rivals in some important areas, however, including predicted reliability and trunk space.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The 2020 Audi A3 is the least expensive brand-new vehicle in the company's portfolio. This premium subcompact sedan has all the typical Audi attributes. Its exterior design is both classy and restrained. Its cabin is similarly honed and toned with high-quality materials, a smart layout and exemplary luxury car build standards. Driving the A3 is also a pleasurable and confidence-inspiring experience." -- Autotrader
  • "Just because it has a premium badge doesn't mean it's out of your reach. Attractive, upscale and fun to drive, the … Audi A3 sets the standard for the new smaller crop of entry-level luxury cars." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "The [high-performance S3 trim] starts at $43,850, but can reach $56,000 when loaded up. Although the price may seem a bit high due to the car's lack of refinement in some respects, the car keeps its promise on cornering, power, and overall performance, which are much more important qualities for this car." -- Motor Trend (2017) 
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