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Latest Audi A3 takes step forward on safety

Latest Audi A3 takes step forward on safety
Tristan Honeywill

The latest generation A3 may look similar to the previous model, but there are serious technological advances under the skin. The car has earned its Euro NCAP five-star safety rating, read full report. Under a stricter set of assessment criteria and it offers a good selection of driver assistance options that aim to prevent accidents.


Crash protection in the A3 is good all-round. In the most severe crash scenario, the pole test, protection of the driver’s chest was rated adequate, the second best result. Everything else was rated as good however.

The protection for young children in car seats is also good. It’s worth noting that Audi will fit a switch to disable the front airbag so that you can put a rearward facing child seat there, but Euro NCAP says they don’t make it clear enough whether it’s on or off.

Protection for pedestrians probably isn’t quite so good. Despite the car having a pop-up bonnet designed to create some space between the unlucky head and the hard top of engine, Euro NCAP rated the protection as less than satisfactory.

Besides the usual ABS and electronic stability control, the A3 also comes with a driver assistance technology that sounds interesting. The A3 features a “Multi-Collision Brake” system, which automatically brakes the car if you have an accident to prevent you from pinballing into other vehicles. There’s also a useful camera-based system that reads speed limit signs and keeps the information displayed on the dash for you.

Technologies that aim to prevent the most common, low-speed nose-to-tail accidents from occurring in the first place are available, but are found in the options catalogue.

The one to fit is the £1450 Driver Assistance Package. This will give you a camera-based city braking system available that can stop the car at speed up to 19mph if an impact is predicted. It also gives you an adaptive cruise control system, which maintains a safe gap between you and the car in front, a lane keeping assistant, a blind spot checker, and headlights that dip automatically for other cars. On the entry-level SE model, you’ll also need to fit the Colour’s Driver Information system for £120.

For the sake of £200 it would be silly not to also opt for Audi’s £200 Pre-Sense Basic option. This is a neat and inexpensive way to improve safety in an accident. When the car detects an impending collision, it closes the windows and pre-tensions the seatbelts. These are small electric pre-tensioners that pull everybody tight in their seats, getting you into the best position for an impact. If you have a narrow miss, the belts slacken off again.

Safety tips

Buyer’s guide 

  • The A3 starts at £19,205 for the three-door. The five-door Sportback starts at £19,825
  • Pre-Sense Basic costs £200 and is the best value upgrade available on the car
  • Xenon light package costs £1250 and gives you adaptive full beam headlights that put more light on the road at night
  • Driver assistance package costs £1450 and gives you adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and blind spot detection. On some models you may need to upgrade the driver display for £100
  • Variable headlight range control allows you drive on maximum beam all the time at night without dazzling other drivers. The option costs £175, but you’ll need to add either the £300 Comfort Package or £329 Auto-Dimming Rear View Mirror Package
  • Consider the Volvo V40 and Ford Focus, which do offer autonomous emergency braking as well as other safety options

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