Desirable premium family car offers badge kudos â€“ and it needn’t break the bank, either
The popularity of the previous-generation Audi A3 (2003-2013) as a new car means thereâ€™s now an abundance of choice on the used market. As a result, you can take your time choosing the perfect second-hand example of this desirable family hatchback. Hereâ€™s how to ensure you end up with the best possible model for your needs.
Over the decade it was produced, the A3 came in both three and five-door bodystyles, with a wide range of engine and kit levels. That means thereâ€™s a car for every budget. Weâ€™d suggest that, unless youâ€™re a really high-mileage driver, you should go the petrol route â€“ the later 1.4 TFSI is a better bet than its 1.4 TSI predecessor â€“ and stick with a five-door for ultimate practicality. The cabins are all top-notch, by the way. The sporty, blinged-up S line variant is a little too firmly suspended, and didnâ€™t do much to boost the A3â€™s already so-so dynamics against some of its better rivals.
At the bottom end of the market, just over Â£1000 will buy you an A3, but youâ€™re looking at twice that for a good one. Pre-2009 facelift petrol five-doors are now dipping towards Â£2500, and you should add a Â£500 premium for a diesel. Post-2009 models cost from around Â£6000. The blisteringly fast S3 starts at Â£10k, with good low-milers over double that.
Maintenance costs of all models except the S3 are reasonable, although anything with quattro four-wheel drive costs more to run than cars without. On your test drive, look out for jerky automatic boxes or balky synchromesh in a manual, as both signal big rectification bills. Air-con repairs can be costly, too.
Check whether any potential buy has been affected by a recall, and ensure relevant work has been carried out if so. If youâ€™re looking at an A3 2.0 TDI, beware that 1) it may have been affected by the VW Group emissions scandal, and 2) that it isnâ€™t immune to more everyday issues such as a failed dual-mass flywheel. Expensive to fixâ€¦
Ultimately, to ensure you get the best second-hand Audi A3 possible, shop carefully, take the time to do all the usual used-car checks and buy wisely. Youâ€™ll end up with a great all-rounder that deserves its popularity as much now as when it was new.