2012 Audi A3 TDI Diesel: Review Roundup

2012 Audi A3 TDI
photo courtesy of Audi of America

Shopping for a 2012 clean diesel car and thinking about the Audi A3 TDI wagon? Here’s a round up of major reviews of the vehicle to help you decide. Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom if you have questions, or something to add!

Although the car hasn’t gone through any major revisions since 2006, efficient and practical are two words that best describe the 2012 Audi A3 TDI. It’s practical due to its five-door hatchback design. It has been said that it feels like a scaled down A4, which is a good thing. It is efficient thanks to the 2.0 TDI clean diesel engine, which generates 140 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. There is a version that offers front-wheel drive and one that provides all-wheel drive. Of course fuel economy is impressive with an EPA-rated 30 MPG in the city and a quite acceptable 42 MPG on the highway. MSRP is around $30,250.

Car and Driver Buyer’s Guide – 2012 Audi A3 TDI Diesel

Car and Driver marks the A3’s high points as a “willing chassis, fuel-sipping diesel option, spirited gas turbo four, handsome inside and out, practical to park and place in traffic.” The magazine knocks the rather pricey costs of accessories which can cause the sticker price to “soar.” Moreover, the interior design is in need of a refresh.  C&D editors also like its “athletic” suspension, and dependable steering and concluded that it is “fun to drive.”

AOL Autos – 2012 Audi A3 Expert Review: New Car Test Drive

AOL Autos praised the car for “a combination of open-road dynamism, long-haul friendliness, and around-town usefulness.” They liked the interior because of smart ergonomic design. “It offers a fine combination of utility and comfort and exudes a high level of workmanship.” They point to the cockpit as an example of “applied ergonomic science, with logical placement of controls and highly legible read outs.” They noted that the sports-car-like feel is due to a lower seating position in relation to the high and wide console. Leg room in the front and rear were pronounced “adequate.” However, taller passengers, especially those who occupy the rear seat, may with for more headroom. “The back seats are quite comfortable, more supportive than the front seats on many compacts, but the slope of the roof means tall passengers may find rear headroom compromised.”

They also favored the practicality of the hatchback design. They noted that the luggage area can be increased by folding the split rear seatbacks down. The wide doors of the vehicle permit easy entry and exit. However, they found the shallow, flush-fitting door handles difficult to grab. They also didn’t like the seat-belt alarm going off when the engine is on and the car is parked. In addition, they did not like how easy it was to activate the alarm’s panic button on the remote key fob.

During the test drive, the editors were impressed with the “refined” suspension which gave the car better ride quality than one might find in another car of similar price point or class. They also noted that the fuel tank of the TDI diesel is more than 14 gallons. With that and the MPG rating of 42 on the highway, the Audi A3 diesel has a cruising range of about 600 miles. According to Audi, the car can sprint from 0-60 mph in around 9 seconds. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard or you can choose a paddle/lever shifted S tronic automatic. “The swiftness of choosing the correct gear with the S tronic feels like magic and makes every driver almost feel like an accomplished race car driver,” praised the editor who test drove the A3.

AOL Autos concluded, “The Audi A3 is a high-quality car that offers premium handling and safety, roominess and practicality, yet is still easy to park and, with either engine, is easy on fuel. …  With its combination of performance, capabilities, style, quality of fit and finish, luxury, ride, handling and fuel efficiency, it is a keeper.”

zAutos.com – Car Review: 2012 A3 TDI Wagon

zAutos.com introduces the car to readers with elaborate praise. “The 2012 Audi A3 TDI turbodiesel wagon is a solid contender in the diesel engine marketplace with its highly fuel efficient performance and rugged durability. Available in two trim levels, the Audi A3 TDI is a green-friendly alternative to traditional gas-fueled engines and provides plenty of room and driving power for most families.” The article points out that the car has an impressive list of standard features for its price range. “Full power accessories, remote door locks, cruise control, dual-zone air conditioning with advanced air filtration, and leather upholstery are included, making this one of the best buys in its class both in fuel economy and in value for money on the dealership floor.”

According to this write up, the only negatives are that acceleration and uphill power “may be somewhat lacking” and that there may not be sufficient interior space, especially in the rear seat area. Yet, zAutos still concludes, “The 2012 Audi A3 TDI wagon is a green-friendly alternative to hybrid vehicles and provides solidly reliable family transportation, making it a good choice for environmentally conscious families with an eye for comfort and luxury.”

2012 Audi A3 Clean Diesel TDI Review Summary

In conclusion, the consensus appears to be:


  • Efficient and Practical
  • Diesel Engine Offers Great MPG
  • Large Fuel Tank Helps With Cruising Range
  • Ergonomically Designed Interior
  • Handles Well
  • Easy Entry and Exit
  • Green-Friendly


  • Car Hasn’t Been Upgraded Since 2006
  • Space Issues in Back Seat Area
  • Interior Looks Old
  • Flush Fitted Door Handles Hard to Grab
  • Seat-belt Alarm
  • Too Easy to Activate Alarm’s Panic Button on Remote
  • Acceleration and Uphill Power Lacking Somewhat

Do you own this car, or have you driven one? What’s your take?

Leave a comment and help out the people who are researching this car!

One thought on “2012 Audi A3 TDI Diesel: Review Roundup”

  1. Audi only offers the all-wheel drive on the gasoline engine A3, not the A3 TDI. Big deal if better road handling and safety is important.

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