The Audi A3 is a small, family-oriented car often rated as one of the most luxurious small cars. But which is the best year Audi A3?

The A3 has been around since 1996 and was built on the same platform as the Volkswagen Golf. It was initially launched as a three-door hatchback. But over the years, it has dramatically transformed and grown to become more stylish and equipped with advanced features and luxuries.

2017 is the best year Audi A3 as it offers many luxury and modern tech features. The A3 powertrain was revised in 2017, making it more powerful than previous models. The 2017 model comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and makes many safety features, like emergency braking, standard.

Critics say that the Audi A3 is just a Volkswagen Golf GTI with a sedan body and a premium price tag; we say they are wrong! Even though the A3 shares a platform and a few powertrain components with the Golf, that is just about where the similarities come to an end. The Audi A3 has far more than a few shared components. This is not to degrade the Golf in any way, but it is also not justified to compare the A3 to the Golf, as both vehicles belong to a different segment.

Our car experts find the Audi A3 to be an excellent choice for small families looking to cruise in style. The Audi A3 provides exceptional safety features and is a lot of fun to drive. Whether you use it as a daily grocery-getter or like to take your family on long highway cruises, you will enjoy the luxuries of Audi at only a fraction of the price.

Best Year Audi A3

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2017 Audi A3

The 2017 Audi A3 belongs to the generation that launched in 2015. Initially launched as a four-door sedan, Audi later added a plug-in hybrid and a convertible variant to the lineup. Audi continuously makes improvements to its cars to retain an edge in the competitive market. For 2017, the Audi A3 received many upgrades, including a bigger engine than its predecessor.

The Audi A3 is available in three trim levels, Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige. All variants are powered by the same 2.0-liter turbocharged, inline-4 gasoline engine.

Design Features

The 2017 Audi A3 wears the signature Audi look; it is so "Audi" looking that you must look carefully to distinguish it from the popular A4. The A3 can be classed as a smaller A4, which is a smaller A6. For quite some time now, all Audis have shared more than a few design cues, and it can be a little difficult for non-enthusiasts to tell them apart.

For 2017, the A3 received enhanced headlights, a new grille, and different wheel designs. Again, the differences are hard to spot, making the owners of 2015 and 2016 quite happy. An optional S-Line package adds several sporty cues, but it works only on aesthetics.

Towards the rear, the car is equipped with LED taillights that are split between the fenders and the trunk lid, but you hardly notice the splitting line on the lights. The trunk lid sits over a large bumper equipped with two exhausts towards the bottom.

The car wears an aggressive fascia with Xenon headlamps and a sporty wheelset. It is pretty attractive from the sides, with neat proportions and crisp creasing that make it stand firm against most of its rivals.

Step inside, and you will notice the A3 moving away from the signature Audi look with a relatively simplified dashboard and unique vents for climate control. But all is not lost, as the 7.0-inch infotainment system screen still emerges gracefully from the center of the dashboard. The system's buttons and knobs are easy to get used to and located around the center console.

Performance Features

The 2017 Audi A3 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that uses direct-injection technology to deliver better performance and improved fuel economy. This engine comes standard across all variants and produces 220 hp with 258 pound-feet torque.

The engine is refined, robust, and delivers excellent performance on front-wheel and all-wheel-drive variants. It comes with only one transmission option; a six-speed, dual-clutch automatic, which is very responsive and provides smooth and rapid shifts.

All A3s come mounted on a similar platform used on the VW Golf. The stiff chassis frame allows for an improved suspension that makes the car comfortable and provides crisp handling at the same time.

The front strut suspension on the 2017 A3 is coupled with a torsion beam over the rear wheels. This arrangement allows the maximum amount of free space on the compact vehicle. The electronically powered steering adds to the driving pleasure. It feels well-balanced and precise on the road. You can quickly get used to the responsiveness, which allows you to place your Audi A3 anywhere you like in the lane.

For the optional All-wheel-drive variants, the AWD system works differently than those found on larger Audis. The Haldex all-wheel-drive system focuses most of its power towards the front wheel but can quickly turn the rear wheels when it detects traction loss.

The Drive Select system on the A3 lets the driver choose between Comfort, Auto, and Sport modes. These modes alter the throttle response, modify the shifting patterns, and even tweak the steering to change the driving experience.

 Comfort Features

It still surprises many car enthusiasts how a luxury car comes at a relatively low price. The Audi A3 is equipped with many technologies in the cabin and flaunts a conservative yet attractive design. The backseat space allows many critics to question the luxury badge on the vehicle. But to be honest, we do not expect luxurious backseat legroom on a car that is only 175 inches from bumper to bumper.

Anyways, moving to the front, we notice the materials are of high quality all around. This applies to the soft-touch surfaces of the dashboard, the door panels, and the seat hides. There is enough legroom and headroom on the front seats. However, tall individuals can have a little trouble with their knees brushing against the center console on and off.

The seats are well-bolstered but feature short cushions that do not provide too much thigh support. The driver gets a power-adjustable seat, but you will need to look for the Premium Plus or above for the power-adjustable passenger seat.

The biggest issue with the cabin was not it's crammed size or the short seat cushions; it was road noise. We expect better insulation and some noise cancellation technologies for a vehicle that wears an Audi badge. The road noise is significant and gets worse as the tire size increases.

The trunk space on the A3 sedan is around 12.3 cubic feet for front-wheel-drive variants and 10 cubic feet for all-wheel drives. This size is adequate for two mid-sized to large trolley bags. However, if you need to load up more, you can always fold down the back seats for added space.

Safety Features

The 2017 Audi A3 comes equipped with many passive and active safety features. Some features that come standard across all A3 variants follow.

  • Frontal airbags are located in the dashboard for the front passenger and the middle of the steering wheel for the driver. These prevent serious head injuries during a frontal impact.
  • Side impact airbags are equipped in the curtains and help protect the occupants from severe injuries to the torso during a side impact.
  • Overhead airbags protect the occupants' heads during a rollover or a severe side impact.
  • Knee airbags protect the driver and front passenger from incurring injuries to the lower portions of the body in case of a crash.
  • Pre-collision detection can detect a crash and trigger emergency braking to avoid the collision or at least minimize its effects.
  • There are advanced systems that can detect an imminent crash. This system tightens seatbelt pretensioners, rolls up windows, and closes the moonroof to keep occupants safe inside the vehicle.
  • Standard Daytime Running Lights that make the vehicle visible from a distance

Numerous optional features are available on the Audi A3 but come standard on the top-trim, the Prestige. These include, but are not limited to:

  • LED Headlamps with automatic high beams
  • Traction control that can alter the power between the wheels
  • Lane Keep Assist can make changes to the steering to get the A3 back in the lane if it veers off towards the centerline or the hard shoulder.
  • Blind-spot monitors assist the driver with lane changes and warn the driver of any vehicle in the A3's blind spot.
  • A rear traffic cross alert can warn the driver of any approaching vehicle when backing up. This feature is beneficial when backing out of box parking spots.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rates the overall safety of the 2017 Audi A3 as five-star. The vehicle also gets five stars for side impacts and four for frontal impacts and rollover.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awards the Audi A3 with its top "Good" score for all crashworthiness tests. The institute is also impressed by the crash prevention system, rated as "Superior." With all the top scores, the 2017 Audi A3 was awarded the Top Safety Pick+ award for 2017.

Cabin Features

The 2017 Audi A3 comes with many tech features, and a lot of them are found standard across all variants. There is also a wide range of optional features that can be found on the A3.

One of the first features to grab attention as soon as you start the engine is the gracefully rising 7.0-inch screen from the dashboard's center. It is one of the brightest and thinnest displays in the market. It seems delicate and fragile to touch. But don't you worry about that, because you will never need to touch it. It is controlled by the knobs, buttons, and a sensitive trackpad that detects handwriting located in the center console. Or, if you want to keep things simple, you can operate it with simple voice commands.

The Multimedia Interface does more than just play music. You can access your RSS feeds or listen to your Twitter and Facebook alerts, which the system reads out for you. It even allows you to tune into over seven thousand radio channels over the internet. The system also uses Google Maps and Street View to give live traffic updates and navigation.

These features are accessed using the onboard 4G internet connection, which requires a subscription. If you do not want to subscribe, you can use your pocket router to connect the system to the internet and enjoy all these amenities.

In addition to the advanced MMI infotainment system, the Premium trim, which is the most basic, comes with:

  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Power-adjustable driver seat
  • Leather upholstery
  • Bluetooth connectivity with streaming audio
  • Rain-sensing automatic wipers
  • Fancy daytime running lights
  • Panoramic moonroof
  • HD SiriusXM satellite radio

Next up the line is Premium Plus, which adds the following features:

  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • Power adjustable passenger seat
  • Heated front seats
  • Optional S Line appearance package

The Prestige further adds advanced features like:

  • Bang & Olufsen audio system with 705-watt output
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • A bundle of driver-assist and safety features

One package that is worth noting is the Sport Package, which adds more features but at a price:

  • Audi's signature Virtual Cockpit replaces the traditional gauges in the cluster with a high-resolution, wide-screen display. This screen can be customized to view gauges, vital information about the trip, or even a separate navigation display.
  • Highly bolstered seats.
  • Sport-tuned suspension for improved handling and responsiveness.

Fuel Economy Features

The Audi A3 comes in different variants but with the same powertrain. However, there are front-wheel and all-wheel drive options that get different EPA ratings.

The front-wheel-drive sedan gets 26 mpg in the city, 35 mpg on the highway, and 29 mpg combined. The all-wheel-drive alters the numbers a little to 24 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway, and 27 mpg combined.

Price Range of 2017 Audi A3

The prices of the 2017 Audi A3 start at $23,000 and go up to $34,000, with an average price of around $28,500. However, many factors such as location, mileage, trim level, options installed, and vehicle condition affect the price.

About THE AUTHOR

Matt Meurer

Matt Meurer

Matt is a VW Master Technician since 2009 after proceeding through the ranks as a Team Leader and Shop Foreman. He has developed software to increase car dealership efficiency, managed 10+ techs, and instructed students at multiple high-performance driving events since 2011. He is also the lead mechanic, engineer, and driver for Blue Goose Racing.

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