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At first glance, it may seem like the Audi A3 and Audi A4 are scarcely different from one another. They’re both fairly compact, elegant, and comfortable. They both come with Audi Quattro and turbocharged power. And they both seat five passengers with an enclosed trunk. But when you look at the details, you can see that the Audi A3 and Audi A4 are made for very different reasons. Let’s dive in and see what makes these two Audi sport sedans different.

An exterior shot of the Audi A4 with mountains in the background
The Audi A4 | Audi

Interior space and function

Technically speaking, the Audi A3 is classed as a subcompact sedan. Meanwhile, the A4 gets the compact designation. In real-world terms, that means the Audi A4 is a big bigger inside, but not by much. In the front, you get 0.1 inches of extra legroom. Rear-seat passengers get just shy of a half inch in extra space. You might think then, that the trunk is where the extra room goes. And while the 13 cubic feet in the back of the A4 is respectable, it’s not far off the 12.3 cubes you’ll find in its smaller sibling.

A close-up of the HVAC controls in the Audi A4
Refinement in the Audi A4 outclasses the smaller A3 | Audi

Engine options and performance in the Audi A3 and A4

In its base guise, the Audi A3 delivers 188 horsepower and 224 pound-feet of torque from a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. Jumping from the A3 to the A4 gets you an extra 13 ponies and an additional 12 pound-feet of torque. In their top-spec, the Audi A3 and A4 begin to separate a bit more. The top A3 powertrain delivers 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, while the A4 churns out 261 horses and 273 pound-feet.

Both the A3 and A4 feature Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system, though the A3 comes standard with front-wheel drive. You’ll pay a bit more for all-wheel confidence in the smaller model, while the A4 comes standard with Quattro technology.

A 2022 Audi A3 in blue
The smaller A3 looks great, but doesn’t stand up to its A4 sibling | Audi

Interior feel and comfort

While performance and space can’t do much to split the Audi A3 and A4, the interior materials can. The Audi A3 feels a bit spartan. Elegant, sure. But there are more plastics than premium materials and the overall design lacks any significant character. Meanwhile, the Audi A4 feels like a truly grown-up luxury sedan. Soft-touch materials on the dash and doors present a high-quality feel. Premium seat upholstery and distinguished lines show greater attention to detail. Even the seats themselves feel more refined in the A4 vs the A3. Deeper bolstering, more adjustability, and standard heated seats make the A4 a more elevated option.


With a starting price of just over $36,000 according to Car and Driver, the A3 is an affordable way to enjoy turbocharged Audi power and entry-level luxury. For an extra $6,000, the A4 provides similar performance with heightened refinement and more standard technology features. 

The interior of the Audi A3
The interior of the Audi A3 is sparse compared to the A4 | Audi

Audi A3 vs Audi A4: The Verdict

While it is hard to split these cars at first glance, a deeper look at both of these Audi compacts reveals a clear distinction. If you’re buying a car to tune or just want the good looks on your daily drives, the A3 is both affordable and acceptable. But if you want a true luxury car experience, the added cost of the A4 proves worth it on refinement alone.

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