Audi A3 VS Toyota Corolla
- Sedan styling looks superb
- Quattro all-wheel drive on highest grade
- AEB on all grades
- Plain standard interior
- Limited rear legroom
- Low on standard features
- Great value
- Big boot
- Good rear legroom
- Not as sexy as the hatch
- Hard cabin plastics
- Parking sensors not standard
Audi’s A3 is one of the most affordable ways into this prestige German brand. But like some amusement park mirror maze you’ll find with so many A3 variations there are numerous, seemingly identical ways into the model.
Which one do you choose? There’s a sedan, a hatch, and a convertible with four different engines, not to mention front- or all-wheel drive.
That’s why this range review is here – to guide you through the A3 hall of mirrors, and identify the right model for you.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Do you have a sibling that seems to get all the attention? Feel like you’re playing second fiddle to a superstar? Want one chance to prove you can do everything they can do and more?
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
The Audi A3 is now five years into this current generation and it’s beginning to show its age in terms of tech and styling in the cabin, despite updates adding new equipment. It’s expensive compared to most small cars but is spot-on for a prestige vehicle.
The Sedan is, in my view, the best looking small sedan on the planet and offers the biggest boot space in the A3 range. The Sportback, however, is arguably more practical, with better legroom, headroom and cargo carrying ability (with the rear seats down). The Cabriolet has the same perfect proportions as the sedan, but like all good convertibles doesn’t make practicality a priority.
The sweet spot of the range would have to be the Sportback 2.0 TFSI quattro S Line with its $50,000 list price making it the most affordable but most 'specced up' A3 in the entire range.
You have $50,000. Do you buy an entry-grade Audi A3 Cabriolet, a 2.0 TFSI Sport Sedan or a Volkswagen Golf R? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
The Corolla sedan is for those who want affordable, safe, modern and easy driving with great boot space and good legroom in the rear seats. Perfect for ride share drivers, small families, new drivers and those looking to downsize. With the Corolla hatch no longer offering much practicality in a small car, it’s time for the Corolla sedan to step in and shine.
As for a sweet spot, the Ascent Sport Hybrid is the definite pick - it picks up extra features over the petrol version and comes with real-world fuel savings, too.
Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.
The A3 comes in three body styles: a five-door hatch, which Audi calls the Sportback; the four-door Sedan, and a two-door convertible which it refers to as the Cabriolet. It may not surprise you to learn they're all different sizes, too.
The Sportback doesn’t look like the shortest of the three but at 4313mm end-to-end it’s 145mm shy of the Sedan and 110mm shorter than the Cabriolet. But those exterior dimensions don’t tell the whole story on interior space. So, which one is more practical? We’ll get to that.
But first, the looks. The Sportback has a wagon-like appearance with its large (for a hatch) rear quarter windows. If you think it looks longer than a regular hatchback, you’re right: a Volkswagen Golf is 50mm shorter even though it shares the same platform as the A3.
However, unlike the Golf, there’s something about the Sportback’s proportions which doesn’t seem balanced.
Then there’s the A3 sedan. Now this is a perfectly proportioned car. Looking like a miniature version of the A8 limo, the A3 is one of the only tiny sedans on the planet that looks fantastic.
The Cabriolet is based on the Sedan, and it too looks beautifully proportioned. Soft tops, when they’re up, never do much for a car’s profile. Be it a Bentley or an A3, they always look better down. When the roof is down the A3 appears lower, sleeker, and tougher.
While all A3’s have the same grille and headlight design the rear treatment of the Sedan and Cabriolet is more refined with their blade-like tail-lights and boot lid lip, than the Sportback, even if it does have a roof-top spoiler.
Interiors are identical across each A3 grade, the cabin benefiting from excellent fit and finish and the use of high-quality materials. But if you like bling-tastic cockpits, maybe you should be looking at a Benz A-Class because even the fanciest A3 money can buy, the RS3, comes with a small display screen and a rather low-key interior design.
As for rivals, the new A-Class (which I’ve just reviewed) is a glitzy competitor in hatch form, with a soon-to-arrive sedan going head-to-head with the little Audi as well.
Small sedans rarely look good - that seems to be one of the rules of design only broken occasionally by the likes of cars such as the Audi A3. The Corolla sedan isn’t as stunning as the A3 but it is good looking and much more attractive that the generation before it.
The sedan wears the same angry bird face as the Corolla hatch with the super pointy nose and the sleek headlights. I’m a fan of the treatment given to the rear – a refined, grown-up design.
The sedan’s cabin is also a match for the hatch and while the clean design of the dash (now less cluttered with buttons) is pleasing, the widespread use of hard plastics isn’t.
That said, as with all Toyotas, the Corolla feels well-built, while the fit of panels and components appears superb.
Want the dimensions? The Corolla sedan is 4630mm long, 1780mm wide, 1435mm tall with a wheelbase of 2700mm. In comparison the Corolla hatch is 4375mm long, with a wheelbase of 2640mm, 1790mm wide and the same height.
Buyers can choose from colours such as 'Glacier White', 'Crystal Pearl', 'Silver Pearl', 'Ink', 'Wildfire', 'Volcanic Red' and 'Lunar Blue.'
Telling the grades apart is tricky, so look for the wheels – the ZR has 18-inch alloys, while the Ascent Sport and ZX have 16-inch alloys, and the hybrid versions have 15-inch alloys with aerodynamic covers.
The Sportback and Sedan have five seats, while the Cabriolet has four. Leg and headroom in the back row for all body styles is limited. The Sportback will give you the most rear legroom, while the sedan has a few millimetres more space for your knees than the Cabriolet.
At 191cm tall I can sit behind my driving position in the Sportback with a pinkie finger’s space, while my knees brush the seatback in the Sedan, and the Cabriolet won’t accommodate my long legs back there at all.
Rear headroom in the Sportback isn’t bad with enough room for my big head to clear the ceiling thanks to that tall(-ish) flat roofline while the sedan is a tighter fit but I just make it under. The Cabriolet’s low fabric roof means only small adults or kids will be able to sit up straight back there – unless the top is down and then you have literally unlimited headroom.
Boot space varies obviously depending on the body style. The Sedan has biggest cargo capacity with 425 litres, the Sportback offers up 340 litres, but fold those rear seats down and you have 1180 litres at your disposal, plus a bigger aperture to fit stuff in. The Cabriolet’s folding roof eats into the boot space, but you’re still left with 320 litres even when it’s down.
The folding roof is automatic and can be raised or lowered at up to 50km/h, but it’s slow - I’ve timed it and it takes about 20 seconds to open or shut.
Storage throughout the cabin is limited, too. There are two cupholders up front in all cars, while the Cabriolet is the only A3 to have two cupholders in the back (they’re between the rear seats). If you want cupholders in the rear of the Sedan and Sportback you’ll have to option the $450 fold-down armrest which houses them.
All grades above the 1.0 TFSI come with storage nets in the seatback and front passenger footwell, 12-volt sockets in the rear centre console and boot, plus cargo nets back there, too. There’s a USB jack in the centre console of all A3s.
One of the few criticisms of the new-gen Corolla hatch was that rear legroom and the boot’s cargo capacity had been reduced compared to the previous model.
The sedan offers more legroom than the hatch and even at 191cm tall I can sit behind my driving position with space to spare (even headroom is good). As for boot space the cargo capacity of the sedan 470 litres – much more than the 333 litres.
Cabin storage is also good with four cupholders (two in the back and two up front), decent-sized door pockets, a deep centre console bin and a large shelf in front of the shifter which doubles as a wireless charging pad in the hybrid along with the SX and ZR grades.
All grades come standard with a 12-volt outlet and a USB port.
So, for practicality the sedan outshines the hatch. There is no way I can sit in the second row of the hatch behind my driving position and the boot in that car rules it out as a family vehicle.
Price and features
The A3 isn’t great value for a small car, generally speaking, because while you are getting a high-quality prestige vehicle, it doesn’t come with a mountain of equipment that you might find on a more affordable little hatch or sedan.
Look at it this way: take $40 into a fish and chip shop and you’ll walk out with your arms full of food, take the same amount into a Michelin-starred restaurant and you’ll be lucky to get an entrée. Same with buying a prestige car – and the A3 really is a starter on the Audi menu.
Coming standard on the entry-grade $36,200 1.0 TFSI Sportback are xenon headlights with LED running lights, cloth upholstery, dual-zone climate control, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with sat nav, reversing camera, multimedia system with voice control, eight-speaker stereo, Bluetooth connectivity, CD player, front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Only the Sportback comes in this 1.0 TFSI grade. The rest of the body styles start with the 1.4 TFSI ($40,300 for the Sportback; $41,900 for Sedan; $49,400 for Cabriolet) which comes with the 1.0 TFSI’s equipment but swaps the cloth seats for leather upholstery and adds paddles shifters, aluminium-look interior elements and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Stepping up to the 2.0 TFSI Sport ($46,400 for Sportback; $48,000 for Sedan; $55,500 for the Cabriolet) adds leather sports front seats, aluminium door sills, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and 17-inch alloys with a different design.
The 2.0 TFSI quattro S line ($50,000 for the Sportback; $51,600 for Sedan and $59,100 for the Cabriolet) brings in lowered sports suspension, 18-inch alloys and LED headlights.
Each grade also attains more safety equipment, which we’ll cover further on.
I’ve also reviewed Mercedes-Benz’s new A200, which is a good model comparison for the A3. At a list price of $48,200 the 1.3-litre four-cylinder A200 is pricier than the 1.4 TFSI, but offers better value than the A3 2.0TFSI with more equipment, including two 10.25-inch display screens.
As for paint colours, only 'Brilliant Black' and 'Ibis White' won't cost you a cent more. Optional colours include 'Cosmos Blue', 'Tango Red' and 'Monsoon Grey'.
The new-generation Corolla sedan has arrived more than a year after its hatchback sibling. Pricing for the sedan matches the hatch grade-for-grade.
The range kicks off with the Ascent Sport which with a petrol engine and manual gearbox lists for $23,335 before on-road costs (add $1500 for the CVT auto) and above these is the a hybrid variant for the first time at $26,335.
The SX sits in the middle of the range and the petrol auto lists for $28,235 while the hybrid is $1500 more. The ZR is the range topper with its list price of $33,635 and it’s only available with a petrol engine and auto transmission.
Standard features on the Ascent Sport include: LED headlights, tail-lights and daytime running lights, 16-inch alloy wheels, an 8.0-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, fabric seats, air-conditioning, and six-speaker stereo.
The hybrid Ascent Sport adds climate control, proximity unlocking and 15-inch alloys.
The ZR gains some luxury touches in the form of heated sport seats up front, synthetic leather upholstery, power driver’s seat, head-up display and ambient lighting.
Engine & trans
Now on to the engines. Yes, I’m doing this in what may seem a strange order, but trust me, it’s to guide you safely through the A3 range without anybody getting lost. We don’t leave anybody behind here, not on my watch.
The grades indicate the engines in the A3 line-up – the higher the grade, the more powerful the engine. So, the range starts with the 1.0 TFSI which has a 85kW/200Nm 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine, and steps up to the 1.4 TFSI which has a 110kW/250Nm 1.4-litre four-cylinder with cylinder on demand (COD) letting it run on two cylinders when not under load). Both are front-wheel drive (FWD) cars.
Next rung up is the 2.0 TFSI Sport and that has a 2.0-litre four making 140kW/320Nm with drive going to the front wheels. The top of the range is the 2.0 TFSI quattro S line which has the same engine but is all-wheel drive (AWD).
Those are all turbo-petrol engines – yes, no diesels and no manual gearbox option either. All have a seven-speed dual-clutch automatics shifting the gears.
If you’re after something more hardcore in the same package, there are two halo ‘models’ that sit above the A3 range: the S3 with a 213kW/380Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four and the RS3 with its 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo-petrol making 294kW/480Nm.
The Corolla sedan comes with a choice of petrol engine and, new with this update, a hybrid system.
The petrol variant has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine making 125kW/200Nm. The entry grade Ascent Sport gives buyers a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or a CVT auto. Grades above the Ascent Sport only come with the auto.
The hybrid combines a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine (72kW/142Nm) and an electric motor (53kW/163Nm). A CVT auto does the honours here, too.
Fuel usage depends on the engine and body style, with weights varying across the range. The most fuel-efficient engine is the 1.0-litre which is only offered on the Sportback, and Audi says over a combination of urban and open roads you should see it use 4.8L/100km.
The 1.4 TFSI Sportback uses 5.0L/100km, while the Sedan uses 4.9L/100km, but the heavier Cabriolet drinks more at 5.1L/100km.
My most recent A3 test car was a 1.4 TFSI Sportback and the trip computer reported 7.6L/100km over a mix of city and country kays - not bad.
The 2.0 TFSI Sport Sportback uses 5.9L/100km, the Sedan needs 5.8L/100km, the Cabriolet a bit more at 6.0L/100km.
The 2.0 TFSI quattro S Line Sportback uses 6.2L/100km, while the Sedan will go through 6.1L/100km and the Cabriolet again is highest with 6.4L/100km.
That raises the question of how much more does the Cabriolet weigh? About 170kg more than the Sedan and Sportback thanks to the extra reinforcement needed to strengthen the body to compensate for the rigidity it loses by not having a fixed metal roof.
Let’s start with the petrol Corolla sedan first – Toyota says that after a combination of open and urban roads it should use 6.0L/100km with the automatic transmission and 6.5 with the manual gearbox.
The hybrid (which is front-wheel drive only) is the mileage hero with Toyota saying the combined fuel economy is 3.5L/100km.
At the Australian launch of the Corolla sedan I drove the hybrid Ascent Sport from Melbourne through peak hour traffic then 97km north along motorways and country roads.
When we arrived at our regional Victoria destination the trip computer told me the car had use at average of 3.9L/100km. The fuel economy of a petrol Ascent Sport driven by a colleague on the same route was 7.5L/100km.
I’ve driven all A3 variants from the 1.0 TFSI to the 2.0 TFSI quattro S Line, plus the S3 and RS3, but most recently I tested the 1.4 TFSI Sportback, which I’ll focus on here.
Our car was fitted with two optional packages – the 'Style Package' which adds LED headlights, 18-inch alloys and sports suspension, and the 'Technik Package' which brings a virtual instrument cluster, an 8.3-inch display and sports steering wheel.
Those larger 18-inch alloys wearing low profile 225/40 Hankook Ventus S1 Evo2 tyres look great, but like thin-soled shoes you’ll feel every imperfection on the road giving a harsher texture to the ride, plus they can be noisy on course-chip bitumen.
I’d stick to the standard 16-inch wheels. Sure, they don’t look as racy, but the ride from those, on 55 profile tyres, is a lot more cushioned.
Despite that grittier feel from the tyres the sports suspension is excellent and manages to soften bigger bumps well. Handling is good too, thanks to that suspension keeping the body well controlled.
Good visibility, steering that’s light but offers decent feel, and a comfortable seating position make the A4 pleasant to pilot, but not hugely engaging. If you're after more of a driver’s car, the S3 and RS3 will deliver – trust me.
Acceleration isn’t bad from the 1.4-litre, with 0-100km/h claimed to be 8.2 seconds. That dual-clutch transmission is a quick shifter and smooth even in bumper-to-bumper traffic, but only if you turn off the stop-start engine system (jerky and hard to tolerate).
I’m also not a fan of the way the stop-start system switches the engine off as you coast to a stop at traffic lights and intersections. For me, that borders on a safety issue, particularly when needing to turn on an amber only to find you momentarily lack steering or power.
As mentioned in the engine/transmission section, the 1.4 TFSI Sportback is a FWD car. Put it on a steep hill, as I did on our test incline, and even in dry conditions it’ll lose traction under hard acceleration. Traction control reins the slippage in, but AWD 'quattro' cars won’t struggle for traction in the same circumstances.
The Corolla sedan sits on the same new platform as the hatch and it’s the reason while both these cars ride, steer and handle better than pretty much any of their competitors.
A wonderfully comfortable and composed ride that would be the envy of the some more prestige brands is the standout feature of the Corolla sedan.
Visibility is a little bit obstructed by the long pillars either side of the windscreen, but we’re clutching at straws here. It’s difficult to fault this small sedan from behind the wheel.
Look that 2.0-litre engine is a bit ordinary in that it’s a little dull when matched to the CVT, so if you’re somebody who likes to get more involved in the driving then the manual gearbox offered on the Ascent sport could be the way to go.
Personally, my pick is the hybrid Ascent Sport. A hybrid in a Corolla makes complete sense – the fuel savings are absolutely real and it’s more fun to drive with the way the electric motor offers little nudges of torque when you dab the accelerator while cruising.
The A3 has a maximum five-star ANCAP rating from its 2013 crash test, which applies to the Sportback, Sedan and Cabriolet.
While the Sedan and Sportback have seven airbags, the Cabriolet has just five, missing out on the head-level curtain bags.
The amount of advanced safety equipment increases as you step up through the grades, but AEB is standard across the range. Lane keeping assistance, blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert becomes standard from the 2.0 TFSI Sport upwards, while the lower grades can attain these with the optional $1500 'Assistance Package'.
For child seats there are two ISOFIX mounts and two top tether anchor points across the back seats in the Sedan, Sportback and Cabriolet.
The Corolla hatch scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2018. Coming standard across the range is advanced safety equipment such as AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, active cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assistance, auto high beam, lane trace assist with lane centring and speed sign recognition.
All Corolla Sedans also come with seven airbags and a reversing camera.
Stepping up to the SX adds blind spot monitoring, while the ZR brings a head up display.
For child seats there are three top tether points and two ISOFIX points across the second row.
Missing here are front and rear parking sensors – these are a dealer fitted option. I think this is outrageous. They should be standard.
The Corolla sedan is covered by Toyota’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Hybrid versions are also covered by the same warranty including the battery.
Servicing of the petrol and hybrid variants is recommended annually or every 15,000km with the first four services capped at $175.