Audi A3 3rd Generation 2015-2020 (8V) Review

Everything You Need To Know Before Buying A Used Audi A3 3rd Gen

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3rd Generation Audi A3: What Owners Say

  • One of the 3rd-generation Audi A3 Sedan's major selling points is its superb cabin design; built with premium materials and bolted together to the highest standards, it provides owners with a premium feel that is a cut above most rivals.
  • The driving experience is sporty, assisted by a dynamic yet adequately comfortable suspension setup and a range of torquey, turbocharged engines including the infamous diesel. With a slick dual-clutch automatic transmission, both efficiency and performance are excellent across the board.
  • Standard equipment is laudable and even the base 2015 models have standard leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, bi-xenon headlights, eight airbags, and a proper infotainment system with a seven-inch touchscreen.
  • The 3rd-gen Audi A3 8V is small and a size class below the compact A4, so rear-seat and trunk space are limited. Do not expect ample space anywhere except for the front-seat occupants. The FWD models' trunks take 12.4 cubic inches, but the quattro models have even less on offer - only 10 cubes.
  • Competition is stiff and the 8V Audi A3 arrived in a class of strong rivals, like the more fuel-efficient Mercedes-Benz CLA and the reliable and extroverted Acura ILX. The Audi is comparatively sedate and conservative by comparison.
  • The A3 doesn't have a great reputation for reliability and while it's reasonable as long as you avoid the obvious pitfalls, there were various problems. All models have the panoramic sunroof as standard, and leaky sunroofs afflict many 8V A3s.

2017 Audi A3 3rd Generation Facelift

The A3 was only on the market for two years before getting quite a substantial facelift for the 2017 model year. There were a few small changes made to the 2019 A3 as well, but they were very minor.

2017-2020 3rd Gen Audi A3 Facelift Front Changes

The exterior restyle was quite extensive and the 2017 A3 Sedan has an all-new front end with a more angular hexagonal grille 1 and new air intakes that contain contrasting vertical "blades" on some trims 2. The new angular, L-shaped headlights are noticeably different from the pre-facelift model's jello-mold-shaped ones 3. For 2020, the slightly rejigged range's Premium gets black exterior accents.

2017-2020 3rd Gen Audi A3 Facelift Rear Changes

The rear-end styling of the 2017 car is very similar to what went before, with only the revised taillight lenses drawing the attention with their L-shaped LED motif in the outer lens and the longer backup light in the inner lens - now set in the bottom of the lens and no longer in the middle 1. The bumper has been subtly revised 2 and the strip reflectors are now parallelogram-shaped and no longer curve downward at both ends 3.

2017-2020 3rd Gen Audi A3 Facelift Side Changes

The revised front and rear bumper 1 treatment and the new headlights can be spotted in profile, as well as the new wheel designs 2, but the taillights look very similar from the side. For 2020, the black exterior trim and 18-inch alloys of the Premium are easy to spot.

2017-2020 3rd Gen Audi A3 Facelift Interior Changes

The 2017 facelift models could for the first time be ordered with Audi's optional Virtual Cockpit digital gauge cluster 1, which will be easy to spot on models so equipped. Other than that, the interior remains largely as is, save for some detail changes such as revised MMI controls on the center console 2. In a small 2019 refresh, the Premium gets a color driver information display between the gauges and new aluminum interior trim.

Engine, Transmission, and Drivetrain

The 2015 Audi A3 Sedan 8V 3rd gen reached the market with a choice of three engines - two gas and one diesel. The two gas engines are both members of the chain-driven inline-four aluminum EA888 engine family and consist of a 1.8-liter with 170 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque and 2.0-liter with 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The third engine option is a turbocharged 2.0-liter iron-block diesel engine with a belt drive for its overhead cams; this engine hails from the EA189 engine family and develops 150 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. It's also the engine that would later become the main focus of Dieselgate, the Volkswagen emissions scandal.

For the 2016 model year, the S3 quattro joins the lineup with a 292-hp/280-lb-ft version of the 2.0-liter gas engine. For the 2017 facelift, the 1.8-liter gas engine is dropped in favor of a detuned version of the existing 2.0-liter engine producing 186 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque. The diesel engine disappears from the A3 lineup forever. At the same time, the FWD cars received a new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. For the 2019 model year, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is introduced for the quattro models as well and all engine outputs are slightly revised - the base 2.0-liter's output is reduced from 186 hp to 184 hp, the mid-range 2.0-liter increases from 220 hp to 228 hp, and the S3's high-output 2.0-liter decreases from 292 hp to 288 hp; all torque figures remain the same.

1.8-liter EA888 Turbocharged Inline-Four Gas Engine
170 hp | 200 lb-ft
Horsepower
170 hp
Torque
200 lb-ft
Transmission
Six-speed dual-clutch automatic

The 1.8-liter base engine is identical in all respects to the 2.0-liter engine and from the same EA888 engine family; the only difference is that the 1.8-liter has a shorter stroke, resulting in the lower engine capacity. By 2015, the EA888 has evolved into a robust engine with most of the cam-chain tensioner problems that plagued the earlier 2008-2014 versions having been deat with. However, it still likes to drink more oil than average and you'd have to have top-up oil handy to maintain the engine's oil level between scheduled services. Water pump/thermostat housings also tend to crack and leak coolant, with potentially engine-ruining consequences if ignored.

2.0-liter EA888 Turbocharged Inline-Four Gas Engine
186/184/220/228/292/288 hp | 221/221/258/258/280/280 lb-ft
Horsepower
186/184/220/228/292/288 hp
Torque
221/221/258/258/280/280 lb-ft
Transmission
Six-/seven-speed dual-clutch automatic

The 2.0-liter version of the EA888 would become the mainstay engine from the 2017 model year and is available in countless different outputs across the world in all VW Group products. For the 3rd gen A3 in the US, the lowest output offered for the 2015 and 2016 model years was 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. This was revised to 228 hp / 258 lb-ft for 2019 and 2020. A high-output version of this engine does duty in the 3rd gen Audi S3 with 292 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque for the 2016-2018 S3, with horsepower slightly reduced to 288 hp for 2019 and 2020.

For the 2017 A3, the base 1.8-liter engine is replaced by a low-output version of the 2.0-liter, first with 186 hp/221 lb-ft for 2017 and 2018 and then with its power output slightly reduced to 184 hp for 2019 and 2020 - and mated in all cases to a new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic; quattro models received the seven-speed unit for the 2019 model year. Besides the odd ignition coil failure, excessive oil consumption remains the biggest concern of this engine and although it isn't generally detrimental to the engine's health, the repercussions of running for too long with too little oil, are.

2.0-liter EA189 Turbocharged Inline-Four Diesel Engine
150 hp | 236 lb-ft
Horsepower
150 hp
Torque
236 lb-ft
Transmission
Six-speed dual-clutch automatic

The EA189 was meant to build the VW Group's "clean diesel" momentum in the US but this came at an abrupt halt when the Dieselgate emissions scandal broke in 2015. Volkswagen admitted to installing cheat software in its diesel cars that only switch on the emissions devices when the car was lab tested, leaving the engines to emit multiple times more harmful emissions when driving on the road. The diesel engine was punchy, very economical, and acceptably refined for an oil-burner, but did not survive until the facelift, 2016 being its final model year. Fewer than 2,500 diesel-powered 3rd-gen A3s were sold and they are scarce as hen's teeth today.

3rd-Gen Audi A3 Real MPG

The EPA publishes actual owners' real-world fuel-consumption figures alongside its own estimates once enough examples of the car are on US roads. Due to selling in rather limited numbers, very few real-world figures are available for the 3rd-generation Audi A3. Interestingly, despite selling so few units, diesel drivers are apparently keen to share their real-world fuel economy due to their vehicles generally performing so well and the diesel A3 does not disappoint, easily beating its EPA estimates in real life with a stellar 41.1-MPG effort.

EPA MPGREAL WORLD MPG *
2015-2016 1.8 turbocharged four-cylinder FWD six-speed dual-clutch (170 hp)23/33/27 mpgN/A
2017-2020 2.0 turbocharged four-cylinder FWD seven-speed dual-clutch (186/184 hp)27/36/30 mpgN/A
2015-2018 2.0 turbocharged four-cylinder AWD six-speed dual-clutch (220 hp)24/31/27 mpgN/A
2019-2020 2.0 turbocharged four-cylinder AWD seven-speed dual-clutch (228 hp)22/30/25 mpgN/A
2016-2018 2.0 turbocharged four-cylinder AWD six-speed dual-clutch (292 hp)21/28/24 mpg25.7 combined
2019-2020 2.0 turbocharged four-cylinder AWD seven-speed dual-clutch (288 hp)22/29/25 mpgN/A
2.0 turbocharged diesel four-cylinder FWD six-speed dual-clutch (150 hp)31/41/35 mpg41.1 combined

* Real-world mpg and MPGe figures are provided by the EPA. Once a car has been on sale for a significant period of time, the EPA gets real-world figures directly from the customer base. These figures are then provided on the EPA website. Real-world figures are not available for certain models due to a lack of sales, or not enough people partaking in this after-sales survey.

Safety

The third-generation Audi A3 offers top-class safety. Even the 2015 model boasts a five-star overall score at the NHTSA, made up of top scores for the side crash tests, and four stars for the frontal crash and rollover tests. At the IIHS, the 2015 A3 kicked off with "Good" scores all around and a Top Safety Pick+ award, which it maintained until the 2017 model year. The 2018-2020 models fared slightly worse against stricter criteria but still bagged a Top Safety Pick award for all three years.

The list of standard safety features has been long from day one and even the entry-level 2015 A3 Premium has eight airbags (including front knee airbags), ABS, stability and traction control, automatic bi-xenon headlights, forward-collision warning, rain-sensing wipers, and Audi pre sense that automatically closes the windows and tightens the seatbelts when a crash is anticipated. Available features include a backup camera, an automated parking feature, parking sensors front and rear, and blind-spot warning; it was optional on the Premium Plus and standard on the Prestige.

The Prestige has LED headlights. Optionally available features for this trim include forward collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warning. For the 2017 facelift, more safety kit was added to all trims, with a backup camera and rear parking sensors becoming standard. At the same time, front parking sensors and an auto-dimming interior mirror were added to the Premium Plus, while automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure warning were added to the Prestige. The Premium Plus gained blind-spot monitoring for 2019 and LED headlights for 2020. The Prestige gained automatic self-parking for 2020.

US NHTSA Crash Test Result (2015)

Overall Rating:
(5/5)
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating:
(4/5)
Side Crash Rating:
(5/5)
Rollover Rating:
(4/5)

2015-2020 Audi A3 Trims

Audi sticks to three main trims for the Audi A3 gen 3 Sedan as well: Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige. The S3 is the performance flagship, available in the Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels from 2015-2019, and in S3 Premium and Premium Plus trims for 2020. In terms of value for money and standard specifications, even the base 2015 A3 Premium comes as standard with items such as a panoramic sunroof and leather upholstery. For 2019, a new entry-level Titanium trim was added below the Premium trim, but this confusing addition is not treated as a new trim by most sources. By all accounts, the only difference between the Titanium and Premium is that the former is a sedan only and the latter is also available as a Cabriolet. Equipment levels are similar. There was a trim reshuffling for 2020, with all the quattro models renamed S line and the Platinum and Prestige trims dropped, leaving the Premium, Premium S line, Premium Plus, Premium Plus S line, S3 Premium, and S3 Premium Plus.

The A3 plays the value card better than most rivals while maintaining an undisputed premium air. Besides the normal three trims available with all the available mainstream engines, quattro AWD was available on the more powerful engines only, which is to say the 220-/228-hp 2.0-liter gas engine and the 292-/288-hp version of the same engine used in the sporty S3 - the latter joining the range for the 2016 model year as a separate, standalone top trim essentially equipped with everything the Prestige has and more. Optional extras changed every single year as the packages were reshuffled. We try to provide as much detail as possible below.

Premium
2015-2020
Engine
1.8-liter turbocharged inline-four gas (2015-2016), 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four gas (2015-2020), or 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four diesel (2015-2016)
Transmission
Six-/seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic
Drivetrain
FWD/AWD

The 2015 Premium has a 170-hp 1.8-liter, or a 220-hp 2.0-liter gas engine, or a 150-hp 2.0-liter diesel engine and FWD - with quattro AWD available on the 220-hp model. It has standard automatic bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, a panoramic sunroof, a manually tilting/telescoping steering column, leather upholstery, an eight-way electrically adjustable driver's seat with four-way power lumbar support, and a 60/40-split rear seat. Infotainment is taken care of by an MMI system with a seven-inch touchscreen that incorporates HD radio, satellite radio, Bluetooth, an SD-card slot, and a ten-speaker audio system with a CD player. Optional extras by means of a variety of packages include heated front seats, an iPod interface, navigation, and front sport seats, shift paddles, and Audi Drive Select. Rear side airbags were optionally available too.

The 2016 Premium has additional standard features, namely a backup camera, heated side mirrors and washer nozzles, dual-zone climate control, and front and rear parking sensors. Optional extras are a color trip computer display, upgraded MMI system with navigation, and 4G Wi-Fi capability. Other possible standalone options echoed the previous year - but note that the lowered suspension was a standalone option and not included in the Sport package by default.

The facelifted A3 has reshuffled equipment. The base 170-hp 1.8-liter engine and six-speed dual-clutch transmission are replaced with a 186-hp 2.0-liter engine and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission for 2017. AWD cars still have the six-speed transmission. An optional Convenience package adds keyless entry and start, as well as smartphone integration in the form of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto by way of a USB cable. The 2018 Premium has standard heated front seats and two USB charging ports and the 2019 Premium has standard smartphone integration. The 2020 Premium is front-wheel drive only and gets 18-inch alloy wheels, black exterior trim, Audi Drive Select driving modes, ambient interior lighting, keyless entry and start, and new aluminum interior trim. Power output is slightly lower, reduced from 186 hp to 184 hp. A Final Edition package was offered only as a 2020 option and is probably quite rare today, so finding an A3 like this makes it more collectible than other A3s. It has leather sport seats with black or Magma Red stitching, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and puddle lights that project the Audi logo.

S line Premium
2020
Engine
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four gas
Transmission
Seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic
Drivetrain
FWD/AWD

The 2020 S line Premium mirrors the specification level of the 2020 Premium, but instead of FWD and 184 hp, it has quattro AWD and 228 hp. This is basically just a new trim name given to the erstwhile Premium 2.0T quattro, which wasn't listed as a separate trim before. It does boast the S line exterior styling kit as standard.

Premium Plus
2015-2020
Engine
1.8-liter turbocharged inline-four gas (2015-2016), 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four gas (2015-2020), or 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four diesel (2015-2016)
Transmission
Six-/seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic
Drivetrain
FWD/AWD

The 2015 Premium Plus gets 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and start, an eight-way electrically adjustable passenger seat with four-way power lumbar support, and dual-zone climate control. The optional Premium Plus Convenience package adds ambient interior lighting, power-folding side mirrors, and auto-dimming for all three mirrors, while the Driver Assistance package adds a backup camera, parking sensors front and rear, blind-spot monitoring, and automated parking. Standalone extras are navigation with a larger screen, a color trip computer screen, and voice controls. The 2016 Premium Plus could be optioned with the Technology and LED Lighting packages, while 19-inch alloys was an optional extra that's easy to spot at first glance; these wheels were optionally available on all but the Premium trim for 2016.

The facelifted 2017 Premium Plus is fitted as standard with keyless go and smartphone integration and also gets the S line exterior styling package as well as heated front seats. Optional equipment includes the Technology and Lighting packages, as well as the Prestige's 14-speaker B&O audio system. The 2018 Premium Plus also has blind-spot monitoring and the B&O audio system upgrade is part of the optional Technology package for 2018, while the 2019 Premium Plus gets LED headlights and wireless charging. The 2020 Premium Plus is FWD-only, with power slightly reduced from 186 hp to 184 hp. The B&O audio system is standard on the 2020 model, as is wireless charging.

S line Premium Plus
2020
Engine
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four gas
Transmission
Seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic
Drivetrain
FWD/AWD

The 2020 S line Premium Plus is identical to the 2020 Premium Plus in terms of standard equipment, one difference being its drivetrain. It uses the 228-hp version of the 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four and transmits its power to all four wheels via quattro AWD, whereas the normal Premium Plus has 184 hp and drives the front wheels only. This is little more than a 2019 Premium Plus quattro with a new name and the S line exterior styling kit, so it's not really a separate trim.

Prestige
2015-2019
Engine
1.8-liter turbocharged inline-four gas (2015-2016), 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four gas (2015-2020), or 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four diesel (2015-2016)
Transmission
Six-/seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic
Drivetrain
FWD/AWD

The 2015 Prestige gets everything the Premium Plus does but adds to the list an S line exterior styling package, LED headlights, and a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system. The same Sport package available on the 2015 Premium could be ordered on the Prestige as well, but the Prestige could also be optioned with the Advanced Technology package, so if you're looking for advanced driver-assistance features on a 2015 Prestige, it must have this package fitted, which adds front collision mitigation, automatic emergency braking, and lane-departure warning.

Some spec changes saw standard power-folding side mirrors and an auto-dimming feature on the driver's mirror added for 2016, as well as lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation, and the entire Technology Package as available on the 2016 Premium, but with lane-departure warning added as well. The 2017 Prestige has the full LED Lighting package as standard, which includes automatic high beams and LED interior ambient lighting, as well as the Audi Virtual Cockpit digital gauge cluster (the latter optional on other trims). The Prestige trim's last model year was 2019.

S3 Premium
2020
Engine
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four
Transmission
Seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic
Drivetrain
AWD

Although mirroring the equivalent A3 trims, we list the S3 trims separately, because they followed their own course throughout the 8V's production run and do feature several spec differences and S-specific optional extras in light of the S3's sports offering. For example, the S3 Premium is a lower-spec S3 trim level that was only sold for the 2020 model year, slotting in below the S3 Premium Plus and offering essentially a 2020 A3 Premium's standard features combined with the S3's model-specific sports equipment and drivetrain.

S3 Premium Plus
2015-2020
Engine
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four
Transmission
Six-/seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic
Drivetrain
AWD

The S3 became available as a late 2015 model with a 292-hp/280-lb-ft 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and standard quattro AWD. The 2015 S3 has S3-specific 18-inch alloy wheels, Audi Drive Select driving modes, eight-way electrically adjustable front sport seats with driver's memory settings, and leather-and-suede upholstery. Other than that, it has basically everything the A3 Premium Plus has. There are optional 19-inch alloys and adaptive dampers available. The same basic range-wide changes apply to the S3 trims every year. Both 2016 S3 trims have a backup camera, aluminum-look interior trim, and heated mirrors and washer nozzles; they could also be fitted with a Black Optic Performance package, which has unique wheels, adaptive suspension, and blacked-out exterior trim.

The 2017 facelift S3s got access to an optional S Sport seat package, which bundles together manually adjustable sport seats trimmed in premium leather, all-season tires, and rear side airbags. For 2019, power is slightly lower, dropping from 292 to 288 hp, with the six-speed dual-clutch automatic making way for a seven-speed unit. Taking over for 2020 as the flagship in light of the S3 Prestige's discontinuation, the 2020 S3 Premium Plus has automatic high beams, the 14-speaker B&O audio system, power-folding and heated side mirrors, and a rear-seat USB port.

S3 Prestige
2015-2019
Engine
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four
Transmission
Six-/seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic
Drivetrain
AWD

The 2015 S3 Prestige mostly mirrors the features list and annual changes of the A3 Prestige and the model-specific differences of the S3 Premium Plus to create a combination of both. Available extras on the 2015 S3 Prestige include the Advanced Technology package with its driver-assistance features, but this is standard on the 2016 S3 Prestige. The 2019 S3 Prestige boasts the same mechanical differences as the 2019 S3 Premium Plus and follows the A3 Prestige closely in terms of feature count; 2019 was also the last year this trim was available.

Third-Generation Audi A3 Sedan Features (last model year)

Premium / S line PremiumPremium Plus / S line Premium PlusPrestige
Back-Up CameraSSS
Bluetooth ConnectionSSS
Leather SeatsSSS
Apple CarPlaySSS
Keyless EntrySSS
Keyless StartSSS
HD RadioSSS
Alloy WheelsSSS
SunroofSSS

Interior, Trim, And Practicality

The 3rd generation Audi A3 is a small car and although there is plenty of space for front-seat passengers to stretch out in - with 41.2 inches of legroom up front - its diminutive size becomes apparent in the rear seat where legroom (35.1 inches) and headroom (36.1 inches) are at a premium. The trunk size of 12.3 cubic feet for the FWD models is passable but drops to only 10 cubes in the quattro models, which is very small.

The trims can get confusing and lots of chopping and changing took place over the years, but the three main trims always remained Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige. A Platinum trim briefly features for 2019 and the Prestige trim was discontinued for 2020, when the quattro trims received the S line package and were renamed S line Premium and S line Premium Plus, respectively. The S3 was offered from the start only in Premium Plug and Prestige trims, until 2020 when the flagship S3 Prestige was dropped and an entry-level S3 Premium was added.

TrimA3 PremiumA3 Premium PlusA3 PrestigeA3 Final EditionS3 PremiumS3 Premium PlusS3 Prestige
Black, Chestnut Brown, Titanium Gray leather seats (2015, 2016)SSSN/AN/AN/AN/A
Black, Chestnut Brown, Rock Gray leather seats (2017-2020)SSSN/AN/AN/AN/A
Black leather with Rock Gray stitching / Red leather with Anthracite stitchingN/AN/AN/ASN/AN/AN/A
Black, Black / Magma Red, Black / Titanium leather/suede seats (2015, 2016)N/AN/AN/AN/AN/ASS
Black with Rock Gray stitching / Magma Red with Anthracite stitching leather/suede seats (2017)N/AN/AN/AN/AN/ASS
Black with Rock Gray stitching / Magma Red with Anthracite stitching leather/suede seats (2020)N/AN/AN/AN/ASN/AN/A
Black with Rock Gray stitching / Magma Red with Anthracite stitching / Rotor Gray with Anthracite stitching leather/suede seats (2018, 2019)N/AN/AN/AN/AN/ASS
Black with Rock Gray stitching / Magma Red with Anthracite stitching / Rotor Gray with Anthracite stitching leather/suede seats (2020)N/AN/AN/AN/AN/ASN/A

3rd Generation Audi A3 Maintenance and Cost

The basic mechanics are durable, but meticulous maintenance is a must. The EA888 engine and S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission last well, but the former needs its oil topped up frequently - even between scheduled services - to remain reliable, and the latter runs wet clutches, so the fluid must be replaced every 40,000 miles according to Audi. Any transmission work is expensive and both the clutches and mechatronics unit will last longer if the transmission gets clean oil frequently, so never postpone transmission oil changes. The S tronic transmission has dual wet clutch packs that will probably not cost much less than $2,000 to replace when they're worn out. Always keep the vehicle stationary on inclines using the footbrake and never by applying the throttle, because this causes the clutches to slip, wearing them out faster. Check the water pump/thermostat housing periodically, because it can crack and coolant loss can lead to overheating and engine damage.

The normal lubrication service is performed every 10,000 miles or one year, whichever comes first, but you can be almost sure that the EA888 engine will require top-ups in between. Check oil weekly and keep it topped up to prevent running low on oil and accelerating wear. It is recommended that you reduce oil-change intervals to 5,000 miles if you are operating your vehicle under severe conditions, such as in freezing temperatures and/or on dusty roads. On the A3 quattro models, the oil in the AWD system's clutch pack should be replaced every three years, regardless of mileage, the engine's air filter must be replaced every 60,000 miles, and the cabin filter every 20,000 miles or two years. The brake fluid must be renewed every two years.

2015-2020 Audi A3 Basic Service

Engine Oil Change Including Filter (Gas)

2015-2020 1.8-liter turbocharged inline-four EA888 gas engine (170 hp): 5.7L (6 quarts)

Recommended type and viscosity: Audi oil specification 508. 0W-40 fully synthetic oil, Amsoil OEM part code EFOQT-EA

Oil filter element OEM part number 06L-115-562-B

Replacement: Every 5,000 to 10,000 miles, depending on use.

Average cost: $10 for filter and $80 for oil

2015-2020 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four EA888 gas engine (186/184/220/228 hp): 5.7L (6 quarts)

Recommended type and viscosity: Audi oil specification 508. 0W-20 fully synthetic oil, Amsoil OEM part number EZTQT-EA

Oil filter element OEM part number 06L-115-562-B

Replacement: Every 5,000 to 10,000 miles, depending on use.

Average cost: $10 for filter and $83 for oil

2015-2020 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four EA888 gas engine (292/288 hp): 5.7L (6 quarts)

Recommended type and viscosity: Audi oil specification 504. 0W-40 fully synthetic oil, Amsoil OEM part number EFOQT-EA

Oil filter element OEM part number 06L-115-562-B

Replacement: Every 5,000 to 10,000 miles, depending on use.

Average cost: $10 for filter and $80 for oil

2015-2016 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four EA189 diesel engine: 5.7L (5.8 quarts)

Recommended type and viscosity: Audi oil specification. 5W-30 fully synthetic oil, Amsoil OEM part number AELQT-EA

Oil filter OEM part number 03N-115-562-B

Replacement: Every 5,000 to 10,000 miles, depending on use.

Average cost: $10 for filter and $99 for oil

Sparkplugs

All gas engines, all years:

Part code: Bosch 06K905611C

Replacement: Every 60,000 miles

Average price: $84 for four

Air Filter

All gas engines, all years:

OEM part number: 5Q0129620B

Replacement: Every 60,000 miles

Average Price: $34

2015-2016 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four EA189 diesel engine (150 hp)

OEM part number: 5Q0129620C

Replacement: Every 60,000 miles

Average Price: $29

Battery

All engines, all years:

Type: Audi OEM battery, part code 000915105DG / 000915105CC

Replacement: Every 3-5 years

Average Price: $171/$243

Audi A3 3rd Gen Tires

2015-2019 Premium and Premium quattro
Tire Size:
P225/45R17
All-season tires:
$524-$872 per set
2015-2020 Premium Plus, Premium Plus quattro, Prestige, and Prestige quattro; 2020 Premium, S line Premium, and S line Premium Plus
Tire Size:
P225/40R18
All-season tires:
$572-$948 per set
2015-2020 S3 Premium, S3 Premium Plus, and S3 Prestige
Tire Size:
P225/40R18
Summer tires:
$556-$782 per set

Check Before You Buy

Technical Service Bulletins according to the NHTSA. Check service book for:

The 8V Audi A3 is a highly strung and intricately engineered car with all the latest advances such as direct injection, turbocharging, and a dual-clutch automatic transmission - in every single model. It can be reliable but neglect it at your peril. The EA888 gas engine is known to drink oil and you have to check its oil levels weekly. Replace the dual-clutch transmission's oil strictly on schedule too, to maintain its reliability. The thermoplastic water pump/thermostat housing is also known to crack and leak coolant, so be sure to check for coolant leaks and have them attended to promptly before damage can occur. Last, the panoramic sunroof is standard on all models and its water-drainage channels crack, leaking water into the interior, which can lead to water damage to the trim and electrics. Thankfully, very few 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, or 2020 Audi A3 air conditioning or transmission problems are reported - as long as the cars are properly maintained.

Some problems are not quite so commonplace and/or not as serious, so they don't get their own expanded sections. However, we note them here, so you can have a fully comprehensive list of possible things that can go wrong with the 3rd-generation Audi A3:

  • The odd 8V Audi A3 might still suffer from cam-chain tensioner failure, but it's rare on post-2013 VW Group vehicles after the tensioner was redesigned. Either way, just to be sure, listen carefully to the engine on startup and when idling - there should be no tell-tale chain rattles.
  • Many 2015-2020 Audi A3 electrical problems and interior trim damage are due to the problem of leaking sunroofs in the third-generation A3. Carefully check for evidence of water ingress on the roof lining or the rest of the interior.
  • Ignition coil failure is not a big concern, but can occur and seems to have seen a bit of an uptick for the 2016 model year. A duff coil can announce itself by a lack of power, misfiring, and the Check Engine light. Coils cost around $26 each but can often be cheaper per coil if bought in a set of four. You should replace all four at a time on high-mileage cars because they all tend to fail at around the same mileage. The Audi A3 P130A error code usually indicates a misfire that can often be attributed to a tired coil.

2015-2020 Audi A3's Common Problems

Excessive Oil Consumption

High-tech modern internal combustion engines tend to have thinner, low-tension piston rings to reduce friction and improve efficiency, but this also means that more oil can get past them. In addition, turbocharged cars' oil also has to lubricate the hot, fast-spinning turbocharger assembly and, therefore, tend to burn more oil. This is not usually a problem until you find that the oil level drops so low that you have to top up your vehicle between standard scheduled services. This is the case with the EA888 engine in the 3rd-generation A3 - and one of the most common 2015 and 2016 Audi A3 engine problems. The EA888 in general, as used in countless VW Group products, tends to have a reputation for drinking oil. Audi likes to point out that a quart per 700 miles is not excessive, but the general consensus is that this type of oil consumption is excessive - and Consumer Reports agrees.

You are unlikely to get much sympathy from Audi and since it cannot necessarily be classified as a fault - and does not impair the engine's reliability or performance - Audi won't do anything about it. Check the oil level weekly and top up with the right grade when necessary; don't wait for the low oil light to come on. Running with the oil level too low can be detrimental to your engine's health in the long run, increasing temperatures and wear.

Mileage: From 17k miles on average

Cost: The cost of top-up oil, or over $7,000 for the installation of a new engine if it seizes from oil starvation

How to spot: Low oil level, oil-pressure light, blue smoke from the exhaust, loss of power

Start-Stop System

Many problems and complaints revolve around Audi's start-stop system and are sometimes incorrectly attributed to the transmission. The start-stop system stops the engine when stationary in traffic and restarts it when you lift your foot off the brake to save fuel. The problem is the way that the system in the Audi operates and that it is prone to faults. Many owners report 2015-2020 Audi A3 starting problems when the stop-start system is active - the engine sometimes starts too slowly after stopping and the delay is noticeable and irritating. Brake and steering assistance will sometimes not be immediately available after startup, leading to a few moments of unassisted braking and steering, increasing the likelihood of a crash. When the system does eventually wake up, it is often accompanied by noticeable jerking and/or lurching when pulling away. Audi suggests its behavior is normal and that you should switch it off if its operation bothers you. While this is no fix, you are unlikely to get more joy from Audi, so we also suggest switching it off to avoid problems and just take the small fuel consumption hit in heavy traffic. There are still a few lawsuits going on because of this problem, so owners may very well find they have a right to claim reparations later on.

Mileage: N/A

Cost: N/A

How to spot: Slow restarting, loss of steering and braking assistance, lurching when pulling away

Leaking Sunroofs

Audi fitted a panoramic sunroof to every single 8V A3 Sedan from its 2015 launch, so there is no way to run and hide from this problem. Plastic water-drainage channels are fitted around the sunroof to channel water away and they start to crack over time. In some cases, the rear drain is incorrectly assembled and may be pinched shut, exacerbating the problem. This is an extremely widespread problem that Audi is aware of; in fact, they issued no fewer than three service bulletins, three technical tips, three service actions, one important notice, and one special notice on the issue. When water enters the vehicle through the sunroof, water damage can occur to the roof lining, interior, and electrics. There was never a recall and Audi doesn't cover any damage resulting from these water leaks. Some owners had their water channels replaced under warranty, but the problem is not guaranteed to stay away. Home fixes are common on the internet, including lining the channels with foil. Another problem is that the two arms holding the rear of the sunroof in its rails can fail and push back the channels as well, allowing water to bypass them.

Mileage: 18,000 miles on average

Cost: Varies wildly depending on parts that must be replaced and damage that must be repaired

How to spot: Water leaking into the interior through the sunroof, evidence of water staining and/or damage on the roof lining and in the interior, as well as associate electrical faults of equipment that was waterlogged

Water Pump Problems

The housing containing the water pump, thermostat, and some sensors on the EA888 engine is made of thermoplastic and prone to cracking and leaking with age. This problem is common and has led to a class-action lawsuit that covers all the 8V A3's model years. An electrical wire connected to the thermostat to control it has a plug that may subsequently melt, breaking the connection to the thermostat and causing it to stick closed, open, or partway open, leading to inconsistent engine temperatures and possible overheating. A thermostat stuck open leads to overcooling and increasing engine wear and a thermostat stuck closed leads to overheating, which will ruin the engine if not noticed, or blow the head gasket at the very least. Not only does this cracked water pump module lead to coolant loss, but also to the above-mentioned connector melting, as well as possible water ingress into other electrical wiring, causing yet more problems. There is an ongoing class-action lawsuit because of this issue. Be sure to check for coolant leaks, often announced by the telltale sweet anti-freeze smell, and warning lights on the dashboard.

Mileage: 55,000 miles on average

Cost: Around $250 for the module and associated parts and $1,200 to $1,400 to have the entire job done at an Audi dealership. An independent shop might be able to do the job for as little as $600.

How to spot: Check Engine light, overheating, low coolant level, visible leaks

Recalls

The biggest recalls for the 8V Audi A3 Sedan are for problems with airbags and with the evaporative emissions (EVAP) control system. Here is every 2015-2020 Audi A3 recall:

  • Airbag recalls. There were four airbag-related recalls and we group them together here. Several hundred thousand VW Group products were affected, including the 8V Audi A3. The passenger occupant detection system (PODS) of certain 2015-2020 A3s may deactivate, disabling the passenger-side airbag in the process, even though there is a passenger in that seat. Audi replaces the PODS sensor mat and updates the PODS control software to fix the problem. In a separate recall of 2015-2017 A3 models, an improper electrical contact may also disable the passenger airbag. Audi replaces the connector and reroutes the electrical cable. These two airbags affected nearly 200,000 VW Group cars in total. In a much smaller recall affecting only 11,618 2017 cars, the passenger airbag may deploy with too much force in a low-speed crash if the passenger is sitting on the edge of the seat or reclining in it. Audi updates the airbag control module software to fix the problem.
  • Label with incorrect vehicle manufacturing date. In a minor recall affecting fewer than 3,000 2015 cars, the label with the vehicle's production date may have been incorrectly printed, making it difficult for owners to determine whether their vehicle is affected by a recall or not.
  • EVAP system fuel contamination. More than 110,000 vehicles were recalled for a problem with a suction pump inside the fuel tank that may cause fuel to enter the evaporative emissions control system, from where it can leak out through the charcoal canister's filter element and potentially cause a fire if a spark is present. The recall affects 2015 and 2016 A3. The 2015 Audi A3 P0456 trouble or error code is typically associated with the EVAP system and indicates that it has a leak.
  • Fuel pump recall. More than 6,000 2015 vehicles were recalled for a fuel pump that may fail. It can cause a stall or prevent the vehicle from being started. Audi replaces the affected fuel pumps.
  • Recall for side marker lights not illuminating. Nearly 80,000 vehicles in total are affected by improper software programming that disables the side marker lights of 2016 vehicles whenever the park lights or headlights are switched on, reducing vehicle visibility. This fault requires only a software update.
  • Recall for engine control software that can cause a stall. A small number of 2017 and 2018 Audi A3s were recalled for engine control unit software that may incorrectly interpret the flywheel's rotation on startup as a "knocking" condition. The ECU then adjusts the air-fuel mixture to compensate for this nonexistent knocking condition and this can lead to a stall. Audi updates the software free of charge.
  • Rear center headrest recall. A small number of 2018 A3 sedans were recalled because their rear center headrest's latching pins may not have been installed, causing the headrest to detach in a crash. Audi replaces the missing pins free of charge under the recall conditions.
  • Rear center headrest recall.
  • Recall for an improperly secured fuel line. A fuel-hose quick connector may become detached from the fuel line in a small number of 2018 cars, causing a fuel leak in the engine compartment, which could ignite in the presence of a spark. Audi properly secures the connector.

There is currently no Audi A3 water pump recall, but this might very well change, pending the outcome of the class-action lawsuits currently open on the subject.

Which One To Avoid

The 2015 Audi A3 was affected by more problems and recalls than any of the other years and although the recalls are hardly a concern - they are all fixed for free - the other problems might be. Most important of these is the problem of the engine burning oil. While all cars with the EA888 2.0-liter turbocharged gas engine burn oil, the earlier A3s are worse than the later ones. It does not affect engine longevity unless the oil level is allowed to drop too low too often, which can end in engine failure. By the 2017 facelift, most teething troubles were sorted out, so we'd avoid the pre-facelift cars if we had a choice.

In terms of trim, there isn't a dud in the range, and even the Prestige trim - which was expensive when new - is far more palatable at a decent second-hand price. The base Premium looks a little skimpy on its smaller wheels, so for appearances' sake, we'd give it a miss, unless we traverse poor roads and need the higher-profile tires. We wish we could tell you to avoid models with the leaky sunroofs, but we can't, because all A3s came as standard with the sunroof. We wouldn't bother with the later base-spec Premium S3, because the performance flagship deserves a spec level befitting its status.

Which One To Buy

The sweet spot in the lineup is the 2017+ facelift S line Premium Plus. The quattro AWD is not a must, but it does give you access to far more power (228 hp), so that's why we'd opt for it (the FWD can only be had with the low-output 186/184-hp engine). The diesel is very rare with fewer than 2,500 sold in the US before Audi pulled the plug on diesel. However, the used ones now available would have had their emissions equipment fixed and the diesel is surprisingly sprightly and extremely economical - great for long distances. It's actually not a bad call if you can find one because the EA189 engine can do huge mileages if properly cared for. If you consider an S3, go for the later seven-speed model in Premium Plus trim.

3rd Gen Audi A3 Verdict

As long as you keep in mind that the third-generation Audi A3 is not a car you can simply forget about until the next time it's time to service it, it will serve you well. You cannot afford to take shortcuts with its maintenance and besides on-schedule fluid changes, you must keep an eye on the engine's oil level at all times, as it is unlikely to make it to the next service without a top-up. Go for the prettier facelift models and you'll have a smart-looking, sporty, fast, and extremely well-built small executive sedan with all the big-car quality you have come to expect from Audi. Just remember that the emphasis is on small. If you need the back seat for adults and a big trunk, the A3 is not for you. Opt for an A4 instead.

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