2012 Audi A3

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$27,270

starting MSRP

2012 Audi A3
2012 Audi A3

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

The good:

  • Performance with gas engine
  • Handling capabilities
  • Wagon versatility
  • Audi refinement

The bad:

  • Somewhat snug interior
  • High windowsills

4 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2012 Audi A3 trim comparison will help you decide.

Notable features

  • Turbocharged gas or diesel four-cylinder engines
  • Available all-wheel drive
  • Available dual-clutch transmission
  • Optional Open Sky sunroof
  • Coupelike silhouette

2012 Audi A3 review: Our expert's take

By Sara Lacey

The verdict:

Versus the competiton:


I cannot believe time flies by so quickly. My babies are now in second and fourth grades. Diapers are long gone; preschool is but a brief memory, and there’s not a wisp of baby fat anywhere on their lean bodies. And I can now drive a small car again.

Despite its small size, my whole family enjoyed the 2012 Audi A3 TDI; it was fun to ride in, even more fun to drive and handled most of our stuff.

The A3 is a small hatchback. The Colorado girl in me would require a ski rack, but all other day-to-day activities were handled with major zip.

The major zip is courtesy of a 2.0-liter clean diesel engine paired with a S-Tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission. I mention this piece of machinery because it’s amazing. When shifting, there is no lag and no kick — just seamless power. It’s quite addicting.

The 2012 Audi A3 has a starting MSRP of $27,270 for a gas-powered four-cylinder. My test car, an A3 TDI, starts at $30,250. Add in a navigation system and the Premium Plus, 18-inch Sport and Cold Weather packages (along with a couple other accessories) and my test car’s price zipped to $38,050.

EXTERIOR
The Audi A3 TDI looks like an itty-bitty wagon. It’s got four doors and a rear hatch, and it’s cute. But watch out, this car is faster than the toddler who you swore was here half a second ago.

The five-seat A3 is easy to get into and out of for everyone. It should be noted that there are some foot wells in the rear that will take some getting used to. The real hurdle will be for parents of kids who need help getting into their child-safety seats. Your backs may ache and your heads may be bonked due to the A3’s low door height, but keep your eyes on the horizon, my friends. Someday this will be a non-issue, but will you be able to hang in there with the A3 that long?

The cargo area is easy to access, and the hatch doesn’t go too high so it’s easy to reach when open — even for shorter folks. My son, age 10, actually liked opening and closing the hatch and loading and unloading stuff out of the back because it was so easy for him. The cargo floor’s height is perfect for him to load his own hockey bag in and out of the back. Hallelujah! The less I have to touch that thing, the better, and he only started playing a few months ago.

The A3 TDI has a turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinder engine that makes 140 horsepower and an awe-inspiring 236 pounds-feet of torque. It gets an EPA-estimated 30/42 mpg city/highway.

SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groove-On

INTERIOR
The A3 TDI’s interior feels like a cockpit because everything is close together, bolstered and dark. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it feels more sporty and enclosed than open and airy.

In the front, the center stack was simple to use, though the Multi Media Interface’s screen looked a little like it was added aftermarket because it was the only item that had polished black plastic. When I looked closely at the stereo system, I noticed there was no CD player. I mourned my advancing age and how technology confounds me; then I tuned in an AM radio station and moved on. Had I wanted to listen to my gadget though, it was easy to do by plugging it in using a USB cord in the glove box.

I liked how all the dials, knobs and switches felt solid and sturdy. The front row’s cupholders were smallish but usable. In the backseat, the cupholders popped out of the end of the armrest. This is not a new configuration from Audi and works fine for older kids, but if you have youngsters these cupholders may cause some frustration and may even get damaged as I’m not sure they would fare well over time in everyday battles.

I had plenty of legroom in the front row, and the kids were surprisingly comfortable in the back. The rear seats were deep, enabling families to be comfortable in the A3 despite its small size. There isn’t an abounding amount of rear legroom, though, so forward-facing child-safety seats are best for this car.

IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair

SAFETY
The 2012 Audi A3 has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. A car must receive the top score of Good in front, side, rear and roof-strength crash tests to earn this safety nod. The A3 hasn’t been crash-tested by the federal government.

A3 has two sets of lower Latch anchors in the second row, and they’re some of the best anchors ever designed. They’re covered by removable plastic clips and sit in a perfect plastic housing — right out there for you to use with ease. That said, rear-facing convertibles and infant seats will be a stretch (or rather, a cram) for most. They will fit, but front seat space will be compromised. My 6-foot-tall husband was not on board with how far forward the seat had to be moved to accommodate the safety seats. I was OK in the driver’s seat, but I am 5 feet 5 inches tall.

Standard safety features in the A3 include front-wheel drive, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, an electronic stability system with traction control, active front head restraints and six airbags, including curtains for both rows. Rear seat side-impact airbags are optional.

Get more safety information about the 2012 Audi A3 TDI here.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.6
  • Interior design 4.5
  • Performance 4.5
  • Value for the money 4.5
  • Exterior styling 4.8
  • Reliability 4.6

Most recent consumer reviews

5.0

Great diesel fuel mileage

A great size wagon. Great on fuel, wonderful handling. Audi has extended warranty for diesel engines. Alcantara interior is so stylish and easy to clean

4.1

Fuel efficient & reliable 2012 Audi A3 Wagon

Above all use a good fuel additive to clean your injectors and a good oil additive. I am using Opti-lube. It is pricey, but protects the motor and what not. I have not used them enough for an informative report so will update you later. Lots of plastic in the interior and in engine compartment to break. So far I have a broken battery box latch and the rear seat release mechanism is toasted. I have to reach in and grab the bottom of the arm rest and pull it forward to get it to release and pull down. It is about TOO MANY hundreds of dollars to replace so I will just keep it that way. It is no hassle to open so why sweat the small stuff? The heated leather front seats are so comfortable!!! Knobs, buttons and rollers are easy to use and understand. The manual helps more than most of them do right of the glove box. It is written for an elementary kid so an adult should love it. Interior lights at night are a pleasing white to light blue and headlight, running and fog lights are just right to help you see the road. Pull switch out and all the way to the right to use the fog lights. Radio is easy to use, just old school. Have not tried to sync phone yet. Speakers are Bose and so very nice! Sounds like a bit of heaven. Auxiliary jack is hidden by a sliding door under the center arm rest. Two 12 volt cigarette lighter style plug ins live here as well for charging or power source for your accessories. I plugged a cassette player into the auxiliary jack and a DC to AC voltage converter to power the player and any other AC appliances. It lives in the glove box and the cords are tucked into the trim so are hidden from sight. The converter has the USB port I need for my phone that this car does NOT have. Cassette player lives just in front of the automatic stick shifter. I am taking out the front and rear springs, coil over struts and shocks and putting in a VW Rabbit comfort suspension for just under a $1000. That will get rid of the feel-every-minor-to-major bump in the road especially in curves where it can throw-you-around-pretty-badly and replace it with the grandma/grandpa boat ride you'd expect to find in a 2015 VW Golf or 2014 Jetta SportWagen. Being I am the grandpa, I am hoping it will be a cushier road driving experience. Price for car with new suspension (I will keep the stock one incase I want to do some racing) is $12,000 with just over 35250 miles on it. It got caught up in diesel gate so has much of the motor/emissions under a warranty until 2024 or 120,000 miles whichever is longer. For me it will be 120,000 miles. The tires are new stock tires with a full size spare I will replace at some point with a 17"upgraded rim and tire at a cost of $345. The ride is very quiet with stock suspension. Wind noise is quiet as well. It does not get blown around much at all. It gets up and goes when you need it to and does not bog down going up hills at all. I was amazed by this as it is the 140HP motor. It gets 32.9 MPG city and just under 40 MPG HWY. With Opti-lube and flat roads I expect to get the 42 MPG HWY the sticker says it will get. Actually, the one on this car said 29/37. It was supposedly castrated by the emissions corrections through diesel gate updates but I guess they did something right with this one? It has both stickers so both updates were done for sure. This car looks and drives like a new one save the two broken plastic pieces and no new car smell. Oh, it has a couple of hair-line scratches in the black paint that shows every speck of dirt, mud and pollen as well as the black leather inside. I will have to bathe it once a week and buy a rechargeable vacuum for the interior. I swore I would never own a black car for these reasons, but this car was just too great a deal to pass up. I am told it will cost me a small fortune in maintenance costs but only time will tell. I am a real stickler for doing required maintenance and using all the correct fluids. I can do some of the maintenance myself. Overall I am really happy with this car and its price. I was looking to buy new car or maybe a rental but this car jumped out and bit me. It is all about luxury, fuel efficiency and is comfortable for an all day drive. I hope it is the last car I will ever buy. It is newer and has the word Sports in it so costs $16 more a month to insure than my Ranger did. Time is on my side. Oh well...add smile here!!!

5.0

Love this car! Excellent condition!

This car has been kept in amazing shape and functions awesome! Drives perfect and the gas mileage of the TDI is a sweet bonus! Love it!

See all 15 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Audi
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
5 model years or newer/less than 60,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
1 year/unlimited miles after expiration of new vehicle limited warranty or from date of sale if the new vehicle limited warranty has expired
Powertrain
N/A
Dealer certification required
300-plus-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

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