Entry-level luxury cars are wonderful things. They allow young people with aspiring careers to get into the brand they desire. Cars like the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA Class are these kinds of cars. The only problem with is that they’re often just fancy badges on plebeian cars. Unfortunately for Audi, the A3 is the only one of the aforementioned two to be such an empty badge.
The Audi A3 is a good car, let’s start with that. But the issue with the A3 is the fact that it’s not much more car than a Volkswagen Golf and it costs significantly more. At base level, the Audi A3 comes with the same 1.8 liter turbocharged engine as the standard Volkswagen Golf which shares the same chassis as the A3, while the A3 starts at $30,000 and the Golf starts at $18,000. And while Audi’s have made their bones on Quattro all-wheel drive, the base A3 come with only front-wheel drive, just like the Golf. Sure it comes with leatherette seats and some nicer interior bits, but the Golf can be made to have those things for a lot less money still.
The Volkswagen Golf is also a hatchback, while the A3 is only a sedan in the US market (thought the rest of the world does get the hatchback A3), making the Golf more practical. It also has better backseat space if you get the 4 Door version and more trunk space. And judging by who you ask, the Golf is actually the better car to drive, especially the GTI. So there doesn’t seem much reason to buy the Audi A3 over the Volkswagen Golf or GTI. So why buy the entry-level Audi A3?
Sometimes it is hard to justify buying entry level luxury cars when there are fantastic cars that can be had for much less money and be had fully loaded. However, those cars aren’t luxury branded cars and that does make a difference. While the base A3 might use the same engine as the Golf, be built on the same platform and have similar performance, the A3 has the superior Audi build quality, better looks and a nicer interior with better seats. It still does feel more premium, albeit only slightly more as the Golf is wonderful, but more premium nonetheless.
So while the entry-level Audi A3 might not be the best deal on paper, it’s still the entry into a luxury brand which inspires people to move further up into the brand that they love. So the entry-level Audi A3 isn’t necessarily a good deal, but it’s the right car for a lot of people, even over a better deal like the Volkswagen Golf.