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Audi A1 vs. A3: which is better?

Eyeing up Audi's A series but can't decide between the A1 and the A3? Read about the highlights of each in our Audi A1 vs A3 review

A grey Audi A1 compared to a dark coloured Audi A3

A1 vs. A3

The Audi A1 and Audi A3 are two of the easiest and cheapest ways to get that prestigious Audi badge.

Both cars are stylish hatchbacks well-suited to urban driving, and you can get great deals on a used Audi to cut costs.

But which of these two similar models is right for you?

Audi A1 vs. A3: Styling  

A close up comparison of the headlights on the Audi A1 and Audi A3

Off the bat, the A3 is bigger than the A1 and takes its form from the larger, more expensive models. The A1 dominates the premium small prestige car category, with few rivals outside a used Mini. It’s a supermini, so the compact body will be your first impression.

The A1 is quite funky for the normally prim likes of Audi. The latest generation looks particularly sporty, with accents taken from the Audi R8 supercar.

The differences between the Audi A1 and A3 are clear when it comes to styling. The A3 looks more like a ‘classic small family car’, competing against the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class. The latest generation is more aggressive, but in general the A3 blends in with quiet style. If you’re wanting more of a sporty look and cool specs, then opt for the A3 S line or Sportback models.

Audi A1 vs. A3: what are they like to drive? 

A comparison of the Audi A1 and Audi A3 driving

For daily driving in comfortable cars that are as good in cities and towns as they are in the countryside, the A1 and A3 are both good choices.

The A1 is more of a nippy run-around and is less exciting for the driving enthusiast because it has a smaller engine selection. The A3’s larger engine range also includes a plug-in hybrid electric option with an all-electric claimed range of up to 37 miles, which is more than enough for daily town or city errand running.

Both cars come with the option of manual and automatic gearboxes. They handle well with accurate steering and are nice and smooth to drive and reduce road and wind noise well.

The A3 is slightly less manoeuvrable than the A1 just because of its larger size, so the A1 is a little more suited to the city than the A3.

Audi A1 vs. A3: interior and technology 

A comparison of the interior in the Audi A1 and Audi A3

Being siblings, the interior layouts in the Audi A1 and A3 are similar. Both have dash layouts with a central infotainment touchscreen. The A1 has an 8.8-inch screen, whereas the A3 comes with a 10.1-inch screen as standard. Upgrade the A1 to get the 10.1-inch system, and upgrade the A3 for a 12.3-inch screen.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also feature, and for quick shortcuts you can use the steering-wheel-mounted controls.

Both cars have well-made interiors, and you don’t have to get the latest generation to benefit from a lovely cabin. In fact, previous generations’ interior build quality is hard to beat.

The A3 has a slight upgrade on the A1 interior as it’s a bit more plush and solid, with better quality throughout and fewer plastics.

Choosing a used Audi A1 or Audi A3 is a handy way to get extra tech and features at a lower price. You can often find upgrades that would be much more expensive when purchasing brand-new.

Audi A1 vs. A3: bootspace and practicality

A comparison of the backseat space in the Audi A1 and Audi A3 models  

Due to it being the bigger car, the Audi A3 is the go-to if you want more space.

Neither car is going to have as much space as larger Audis like the Q2 or Q3, so both cars are more suitable for children in the second row. The A1 easily fits a child seat and a young family.

The A3 has more headroom and plenty of legroom, so it’s better if you do want to fit adults in the back. It’s more of a daily family car than the A1 if you have teenagers.

The A3 beats the A1 for bootspace because it has 380 litres compared to 335 litres. However, compared to rivals, the A1 hold its own well for a supermini.

Read our in-depth car reviews: 

Audi A1 vs. A3: safety and reliability  

Audi is well-known for making safe cars. Both the A1 and A3 scored a full five stars in their most recent Euro NCAP crash tests. Despite being two of the most affordable cars Audi makes, they come packed with safety assists. With Isofix mounts for the front passenger and outer rear seats, you’re covered if you’re a young family.

There have been no big reliability issues reported for either model, and newer cars are covered by a three-year warranty, or 60,000 miles.


Audi A1

Length:  4029mm

Width:  1740mm

Height:  1409mm

Bootspace:  335 litres

Audi A3  

Length:  4343mm

Width:  1816mm

Height:  1430mm

Bootspace:  380 litres

Verdict: Audi A1 vs. Audi A3: which should you buy? 

You’ve probably already come to your own conclusion after reading our comparison review of the Audi A1 and Audi A3. If you’re still on the fence, however, here’s our quick verdict.

If you’re wanting the cheapest Audi badge you can buy, then the A1 is your car. It brings the premium badge to the small hatchback class and is very comfortable with lots of features you only get on larger cars. It’s great if you’re starting out on the family life ladder.

The Audi A3 might be the better option if you want a five-door hatchback that can fit the family, is transferable from the office to the school run, extra-refined and more luxurious. It’s also the winner when it comes to low running costs and low emission savings than to the PHEV engine option.

If you're not committed to an Audi, cars similar to the Audi A1 include the Volkswagen Polo and the BMW 1 Series. Impressive Audi A3 alternatives are the Mercedes A-Class and the SEAT Leon.

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