Audi A3 Alternatives

6 minutes Published: 26/03/2020
Alasdair Cherry

The Audi A3 is a valiant stalwart in the luxury small car class. You’ll be glad to hear that the A3 is no one-trick pony either - available in Sportback, Saloon and Cabriolet form, the A3 is an exquisite all-rounder with plenty of interior panache, refined engines and affordable running costs to get excited about.

Versatile beyond its years, the A3 is a rare blend of practicality and performance which makes it a great family hatchback option. In terms of seating capacity, the Sportback and Saloon models seat five, while the petite Cabriolet seats four.  

Are you still swaying on what new car to choose, but have your eyes firmly set on an Audi A3? If so, this list of Audi A3 alternatives will provide a gateway to a bunch of similarly shaped, styled and performing cars to make your final decision all the more tricky.

Fancy having a look at some other Audi alternatives? Check out our Audi TT alternatives for a selective compilation of dynamic coupes. If you’re considering something a little more space-orientated, our Audi Q3 alternatives list offers a wide range of robust SUVs. Got the itch for something a little quicker? Our Audi S3 alternatives list provides an assortment of power-hungry hot hatches. We've also got a list of the best luxury cars and best compact saloons if you're still in a pickle!

1. Mercedes A Class Hatchback

RRP: £22,630 - £55,235
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 2.1
  • Fuel: D, P, H
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 32 - 197g/km

Pros

  • Plush interior cabin

  • Packed with high-end technology

Cons

  • Pretty expensive

  • Cramped rear seats

As the most affordable car in the Mercedes range, the A-Class is an enticing option for premium family hatchback buyers.

The A-Class’ chic interior is an instant wow-factor and something you’d expect to find in a luxury saloon rather than a family hatchback. Visually, the A-Class outshines anything you’ll see in the Audi A3, although, there are a couple of flimsy features that give the A3 the edge in terms of outright build quality.

The difference between the A-Class and the A3 in regards to performance and ride quality is very minimal. The A3 is a tad more comfortable at high speeds, but the A-Class tends to handle potholes with more poise.

You can also buy a saloon or coupe version of the A-Class in the form of the Mercedes CLA. Under the bonnet, everything is like for like, but the arching coupe-like roofline makes it a great alternative to the Audi A3 Saloon.

2. BMW 1 Series

RRP: £20,190 - £40,175
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 3.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 89 - 226g/km

Pros

  • Superior infotainment system

  • A refined range of engines

Cons

  • No longer rear-wheel drive

  • Rivals are cheaper

The BMW 1 Series is a glorified family hatchback with dazzling looks and bucket-loads of intuitive technology.

The 1 Series’ smooth diesel engines offer a more refined drive. Steering is extremely responsive which makes it a livelier drive, but it can be argued that the A3 feels more composed and better balanced as a family car.

As a result of the front-wheel-drive system, all five seats are more spacious than the previous model which provides the cabin with a popular combo of practicality and style. The BMW 1 Series also has a 380-litre boot which is on point with the A3 Sportback and A-Class Hatchback.

The 1 Series is blessed with BMW’s cutting-edge iDrive MMI Infotainment System, while you'll have to splash out for Audi's Tech Pack. It may not be as pretty to look at as the A3’s, but it certainly packs more impressive features and is a touch more user-friendly.

3. Volkswagen Golf Hatchback

RRP: £17,570 - £37,245
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 3.2
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 278g/km

Pros

  • Comfortable drive

  • Frugal engines

Cons

  • Fiddly infotainment

  • Not the most spacious hatchback

Sharing a handful of mechanical parts with the Audi A3 Sportback, the Volkswagen Golf is a top-performing and iconic family hatchback. The Golf is also the cheaper alternative, but the low price tag means sacrificing the premium luxury offered by the Audi brand.

If you’re picky about looks, the new Volkswagen Golf is causing a few debates relating to the unusual design of the sloping bonnet and front strip that incorporates the badge. The Audi A3 is a wiser choice in terms of stylish exterior thanks to its distinctive front grille and sleek headlights that you get on the S Line trim.

Although the A3’s plush cabin feels more luxurious and boasts a few more soft-touch plastics and shinier aluminium trims, the Golf’s dashboard is ergonomically satisfying and extremely well-built.

The Golf’s infotainment touchscreen looks slicker than the A3’s thanks to its crisp graphics, but the A3’s system is easier to control on the move by using a rotary dial in between the two front seats.

4. Ford Focus Hatchback

RRP: £17,730 - £33,785
  • Doors: 3 - 5
  • Engine: 2.5
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 237g/km

Pros

  • Spacious rear seats

  • Frugal engines

Cons

  • Interior feels cheap

  • Outdated infotainment system

The Ford Focus seems to keep getting better with age. It may not be as flashy as the Audi A3 inside, but it certainly has the capacity to compete, and sometimes surpass, the Audi A3 in specific areas.

The amount of standard equipment you could have on a Ford Focus for the same price as an Audi A3 entry-level trim is astonishing. Front and rear parking sensors, heated front seats and an 8.0” screen with sat-nav are only a few of the highlights.

Although standard equipment is well priced, the Focus can’t compete with the A3’s premium interior quality with too many scratchy plastics and odd gaps splashed across the dashboard.

The spacious back seats are where the Focus really thrives in attracting families. The roomy rear ensures that six-footers will be more than comfortable behind a similarly-sized driver which is more than the A3 Sportback can offer.

5. Skoda Octavia Hatchback (2017)

  • Doors:
  • Engine:
  • Fuel:
  • Body: Saloon
  • Drive:
  • CO2:

Pros

  • Massive boot

  • Cheaper than most alternatives

Cons

  • Lack of standard safety kit

  • Dull cabin

The Skoda Octavia might not have the same glitzy ring to it as the Audi A3 Sportback, but it has the space to fit five passengers and all of their respective luggage with effortless ease.

A popular choice for taxi drivers thanks to its superior practicality, there really is no other family hatchback that can match Octavia’s boot. Its 610-litre capacity trounces the Audi’s A3’s 380-litre boot, while its boxy shape means its ideal for carrying bulky luggage or even a furry friend.

Skoda’s aren’t as cheap as they used to be, but they’re also not the crux of a number of automotive jokes anymore. Not long ago, running costs would have written the Skoda Octavia off, but the efficient choice of petrol and diesel engines offer a very affordable and comfortable driving experience.

Although the Audi A3 Sportback might trump the Octavia in terms of interior flair, standard kit and performance, the Skoda Octavia has enough ability and practicality to challenge the premium Audi badge.

6. Mazda Mazda3 Hatchback

RRP: £20,370 - £31,770
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 2.3
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Hatchback
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 99 - 231g/km

Pros

  • Lots of standard features

  • Decent fuel economy

Cons

  • Cramped rear seats

  • Mediocre boot

The sporty Mazda 3 is probably an outside bet in your quest for a new family hatchback. However, its new efficient engines and latest technology are doing their best to drag you away from more luxurious premium rivals like the Audi A3 Sportback.

The Mazda 3 offers a much higher level of standard equipment than the Audi A3 does for a similar amount of money. You get a very impressive and user-friendly infotainment system, parking aids, adaptive cruise control and power-folding door mirrors on the entry-level trim, and a number of other nifty features for a small additional price.

The Japanese car also comes equipped with a bunch of safety features that are imperative for a car in the family hatchback range. The fuel-efficient engines ensure that the Mazda 3 emits less CO2 than the Audi A3 making it a solid company car choice.

For all the Mazda 3’s strong points, it’s still severely lacking behind the Audi A3 in terms of premium performance, technology and styling.

Summary

Is your head still saying Audi A3? If so, you’ll need to check out our Audi A3 lease deals, stat!

There are plenty of options when it comes to family hatchbacks, but once you stick a premium badge on the front of the bonnet, the field narrows dramatically.

Unfortunately, like most things in life, premium luxury comes with a premium price tag.

If you’re still wavering between cars you can check out of Audi TT alternatives if you’re contemplating a sportier car. If size matters, take a look at our Audi Q3 alternatives to gain some inspiration. For the speed demons amongst you, our Audi S3 alternatives list is full of high-performing hot hatches. Don't stop there -we've also got our best luxury cars and best compact saloons for added inspiration!