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$9,821 - $11,973
$27,270 - $30,850

Pros & Cons

  • A3 TDI’s impressive fuel economy
  • High-quality cabin materials
  • Controlled handling
  • Cramped rear seat
  • Complicated navigation system




Critics' Rating: 8.5
Performance: 8.7
Interior: 8.0
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.0
Safety: 10.0
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2012 Audi A3 Overview

Audi A3 models from 2012 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

Some critics said the 2012 Audi A3’s standard turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers strong acceleration, though a few noted that is suffers from some turbo lag off the line. The turbodiesel-powered A3 TDI earned praise for its responsiveness from a stop, though a handful of auto writers said it lacks power for highway passing and merging. The Audi A3 comes with a six-speed manual transmission, while a six-speed automated manual is available on the gas model and standard on the A3 TDI. Reviewers said that the automated manual delivers smooth, quick gear changes. The A3 comes standard with front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is available on the gas model. The base 2012 Audi A3 gets an EPA-estimated 21/30 mpg city/highway, which is slightly lower than what many upscale small cars get. However, the A3 TDI gets 30/42 mpg, which is very good for the class. Test drivers said the Audi A3’s ride is firm, but still comfortable enough to absorb most bumps in the road. They agreed that the A3 has accurate steering, strong brakes and poised handling, particularly when it is equipped with the available sport suspension.

Reviewers were impressed with the 2012 Audi A3’s tasteful cabin design and top-quality materials. Some were pleased with the spacious front seats, but others didn’t think they move far enough forward to accommodate shorter drivers. Additionally, many critics wrote that there isn’t enough head- and legroom in the back seat. The A3 has 19.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, which is a lot for an upscale small car. Standard features include leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio and a 10-speaker audio system. Available features include an upgraded Bose audio system, Bluetooth, a panoramic sunroof, heated front seats and navigation. Some reviewers said that the available navigation system absorbs too many audio controls, making the stereo difficult to use.

Other Cars to Consider

When it was new, we named the 2012 Acura TSX our Best Upscale Small Car for Families, and test drivers were pleased with its sporty handling. The TSX also comes loaded with standard features, and reviewers said its offers a well-built cabin with upscale materials.

Critics agreed that the 2012 Volkswagen GTI has spacious rear seats and a roomy cargo hold. Additionally, test drivers were pleased with the GTI’s responsive engine and controlled handling.

Compare the A3, TSX and GTI »


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