The two cars drive very similarly, of course. They share many components and are based on the same platform. So the only real difference between how they drive is whether the Audi is equipped with the famous Quattro all-wheel drive system.
All-wheel drive is only available on the Golf R, but is offered on more ‘normal’ cars in the A3 range. A highlight is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine that produces 184PS, and it can be joined to the S-Tronic automatic. This is a very smooth gearbox, indeed. This is the engine and output used in the VW Golf ‘GTD’ hot hatch, but can be chosen with a more comfortable, stylish set-up in the Audi A3.
Normally, when discussing an Audi model, we’d be critical of the long list of optional extras. Audi options are famously expensive, but Volkswagen isn’t much better when it comes to that sort of thing, either. So, while Audi’s options are that bit more costly, you still might not be shocked if you’re an existing VW Golf owner.
The Audi A3 steps it up a notch in terms of class and prestige, but only the individual can decide if it’s worth paying even more for. It certainly does feel like the best a small hatchback can be, whereas the 2017 VW Golf feels like it’s just stopped short of that.
Volkswagen Golf – £17,625 to £35,300
Audi A3 – £19,825 to £40,795