Audi A3 Vs Volkwsagen Golf: Moneyshake Compares
You see, the Golf has been an iconic hatchback since the 1970s when the Mk1 model first came about. 45 years later the latest eight-generation VW Golf arrived and it has an uncanny ability to be just about anything you want it to be. Electric car? No problem, there’s the e-Golf for that. Hot hatch? Easy – choose the Golf R or Golf GTI. Or perhaps you just want an efficient, spacious and tech-savvy family hatch that does a bit of everything. If you’re in this bracket, then the standard range of Golf models will do just fine.
The Audi A3 is around 20 years the VW Golf’s junior, with four generations spanning 25 years. It’s just as flexible as the Golf is, so you can choose between a Sportback or saloon body depending on whether you’re after a spacious hatch or bigger executive car. Beyond this you decide between a vast range of engines too, which go from lukewarm and economical to fully-blown hot hatch, depending on your budget.
Read on to discover how the A3 and Golf compare when it comes to design, driving, practicality and standard features.
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The latest Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf use the latest MQB evo platform, which should be no surprise given that Audi is part of the VW Group.
Aside from this, both the A3 and Golf are two very different cars, even if they do share the same skin. For starters, the A3 is slightly longer than the Golf, meaning passengers in the back get better legroom. However, the Golf is wider and taller than the A3, so six-footers won’t have to crane their necks sat back there – something which can be an issue in the A3.
There’s a solid amount of athleticism about the Audi A3 – with a massive new grille in matt black and honeycomb look, side air inlets in grained matt black, slick LED headlights, rear diffuser in matt black and body colour front spoiler blade. And that’s just on the standard Technik trim.
If you step up to the sportier S Line model you get even more aggressive touches that make it a bit of track star. 18in alloy wheels replace the standard 16in ones, while deeper bumpers and a rear spoiler, plus privacy glass let you know you’re driving something with a bit more attitude. If that wasn’t enough, you’ll also get the plush ‘S’ logo on the front door sills.
Now the Volkswagen Golf is by no means a ‘plain Jane’. From the off, the base Life trim includes body coloured bumpers, door mirrors, roof spoiler and door handles. There’s also muscular body lines and a neat 2D Volkswagen logo on the front and rear which make it a great modern package.
Just like with the A3, there are trim levels you can step up to in order to add a bit more sporty pizzazz to the Golf. Namely, the R-Line which is top of the normal range. It has 17in alloys over the standard 16in ones, beefier bumpers that are specific to the R-Line trim and a body colour rear roof spoiler. It’s by far the best-looking Golf in the lineup and our favourite.
Interior design and space
When it comes to interior designs, Audi and Volkswagen are up there with the very best. They don’t necessarily ‘wow’ you with flashy equipment like the Mercedes-Benz A-Class does. However, everything in there feels sturdy and well-built.
Our only gripe with both these interiors is that there are a few cheaper, harder plastics further down in the vehicle.
We’d argue that the A3 slightly pips the Golf when it comes to the interior design. There’s slightly more of a dealership forecourt feel about the inside, with lots of modern appeal, mainly thanks to the Virtual Cockpit which is made up of a high resolution 10.1in touchscreen in the centre and a bigger 10.25in driver’s digital display behind the steering wheel.
This doesn’t mean you should entirely write off the Golf, however. As standard, it comes with a bigger infotainment display (10.25in). Furthermore there’s other features which it has over the A3, including 10-colour ambient lighting and a roof lining in grey.
Because the VW Golf has a taller roofline and is wider than the Audi A3, it feels roomier in the back. The main difference between the two is when it comes to legroom – its longer body means there’s a bit more space to stretch out in the back.
Seating arrangement is more flexible in the A3, with 40/20/40 split folding rear seats available when you select the Sport model. This allows you to fold the seats individually – a handy feature if you have a family and need to carry them, plus longer items in the back. Unfortunately the Golf doesn’t have this available throughout the range, though the 60/40 folding rear seats will be plenty useful enough for most people.
How about the boot space then? Both cars are matched in the cargo department, with a total of 380 litres in the back. They have height-adjustable boot floors too that let you reduce the load lip for loading heavier items in the back.
Performance and price
The Audi A3 is easily the better-handling model out of the two, with predictable and engaging steering. On the other hand, the Golf’s light steering suits town driving better and this only really firms up when you choose the sportier R Line trim. The driver profile selection option which is standard on this spec allows you to add weight to the steering for better control on high-speed roads.
Kicking off the engine ranges in the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf are 1.0-litre petrol units. The good news is that they’re adequate too, with a 110bhp and average 50mpg combined fuel economy meaning it’s punchy and economical.
We’d recommend stepping up to the more powerful version of the petrol engine though in both cars. In the Golf and A3 this is a 1.5-litre unit with 150bhp. You won’t be disappointed for paying that little bit extra either, with plenty of smooth power being delivered when you put your foot down.
There are more powerful diesel and hybrid engines available for the Audi A3 than in the Volkswagen Golf. For example, when you step up to the Sport trim in the A3, there’s a 2.0-litre diesel unit with 200bhp and four-wheel drive that can go from 0-60mph in just 6.8 seconds – enough to worry some hot hatches. The best-performing diesel engine in the Golf, however, is 1.5-litre and has max power of 150bhp. And because there’s only front-wheel drive available on the Golf, this 0-60mph time takes 8.5 seconds.
The Audi A3 is priced a bit more expensively than the Volkswagen Golf if you’re looking to lease, with prices starting from around £223 per month. The Golf starts from around £194 per month.
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