Open gallery Close by Matt Prior 23 March 2012 Follow @matty_prior Share
How we test cars
Stepping from an old Audi A3 to a new one is like going to the supermarket and discovering your favourite brand of washing powder has been ‘reformulated.’
First you wonder why they’ve felt the need to change a formula with which you were already entirely happy. Then you look a little closer and discover the product and its packaging appear to have changed hardly at all and you wonder some more.
Like so many of this brand’s recent ‘Russian doll’ relaunches, this is a ‘new Audi’ with the emphasis on the latter part of that conceptMatt PriorEditor-at-large
But then you read the small print and discover the new product has been built up around an entirely new formula that despite all appearances to the contrary, bears no relation whatever to what you’ve been using for years.
It’s because within the Volkswagen Group that owns Audi, there exists a culture of never, ever making radical changes to known winners. You can see it all the way from the Porsche Boxster to the Volkswagen Golf, but most of all you can see it in the A3, which has dominated its class since launch.
Chances are you’d need to be an existing owner before you’d be likely to spot the differences between old and new. But make no mistake: the differences are real and, for the dynamically underachieving A3, game changing. Just to give new and old owners clues that this is a new A3, bar from checking the number plate, the mid-life facelift gave the nose a sharper design with the headlights resembling those found on the new Audi A4 and Audi A5.
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In fact everything has changed – there’s a new platform and every engine is either new or substantially renewed. It’s this change without appearing to change that Audi hopes will provide the right blend of technical improvement with design reassurance to keep the new A3 on top throughout its third generation. Even the mid-cycle facelift sought to rejuvenate rather than radically alter the A3 with new engines and more equipment chief among the additions.
Related Audi A3 2012-2020 reviews
Audi A3 1.6 TDI Sport first driveAudi A3 2.0 TDI SportAudi A3 1.8 TFSI Sport 2012 first driveAudi A3 2.0 TDI Sport S tronicAudi A3 Cabriolet 1.2 TFSI
Question is, will it really wash whiter?
Verdict Model tested: Rating:
Audi A3 2012-2020
GoodImmaculate, upmarket interior Engine response and efficiencyNear-flawless ownership prospectsBadReserved, unexciting handlingVocal engineRough-road ride