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2011 Audi A3 Review

The 2011 Audi A3 has a lot to offer: a TDI diesel trim with impressive fuel economy, outstanding safety ratings, fun driving dynamics and a well-crafted interior. However, the A3 stumbles with a small back seat.

Pros & Cons

  • Excellent performance from base engine
  • Available diesel engine with good fuel economy
  • High-quality cabin
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick
  • Cramped second-row seats




Critics' Rating: 8.4
Performance: 8.8
Interior: 8.0
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.1
Safety: 10.0
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2011 Audi A3 Overview

Audi A3 models from 2011 with diesel engines are part of the massive recall by Audi’s parent company, Volkswagen, because they do not meet U.S. emissions standards. Audi will contact owners when they have remedied the problem and will fix the cars for free. The cars are safe to drive. Read more on the Audi diesel recalls

If you want a small car with exceptional interior quality, the 2011 Audi A3 has you covered. Reviewers said its cabin is very well-crafted, though the base A3 offers fewer standard features than some competitors. The base A3 comes with dual-zone automatic climate control, leather seats and satellite radio. Many rivals have these features, but they also have standard Bluetooth and a USB port, which were optional on the A3. Higher trims and option packages also add heated front seats, navigation, a Bose stereo and a six-disc CD changer.

The 2011 Audi A3 has top safety ratings, and its standard safety features include four-wheel anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution, which are expected from a small luxury car. Rear parking sensors and rear side airbags were optional.

Most small cars aren’t known for comfortable second-row seats, and the Audi A3 is no exception. Its back seat is tight, but the front seats are spacious. The A3 offers loads of cargo space thanks to its hatchback design.

The A3 also stands out with fun driving dynamics and available all-wheel drive. Reviewers said the base 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is powerful, and preferred the smooth-shifting manual transmission. If you’re looking for a used small car with exceptional fuel economy, the diesel-powered A3 TDI gets a whopping 30/42 mpg city/highway, but can’t match the gas model in terms of acceleration.

See the full 2011 Audi A3 specs »

Other Cars to Consider

If you like the A3’s performance and interior, but want a bigger back seat, consider the 2011 Volkswagen GTI. Both hatchbacks offer a turbocharged engine with 200 horsepower, though the GTI lacks the A3’s available diesel engine and all-wheel drive. Still, some reviewers said that the GTI had an even nicer interior, and like the A3, the GTI offers great safety ratings and plenty of cargo space.

The A3’s driving dynamics are impressive among used small cars, but if you’re willing to give up some fuel economy and cargo space, the 2011 BMW 1-Series is a great choice. The 1-series excels with more-powerful engines and handling that’s among the most athletic in the class. If you’re attracted to the A3’s well-made cabin, the 1-Series won’t disappoint you. It also received reviewer praise for its modern design and interior quality that is expected from a BMW.

Compare the A3 to the GTI and 1-Series »

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