Considering its age, the hatchback styling of the Audi A3 has worn very well for almost a decade now. It's the smallest Audi sold in the States, but while its lines aren't quite as crisp as those of new sedans sporting the four rings, neither does it scream "old and outdated" inside or out. And its successor, planned for the 2014 model year, won't be a radical departure but rather a through update--albeit with an entirely new platform and running gear.
Fans of Germanic design and sportiness will appreciate the features added in 2010 from the formerly optional S package, including aluminum trim, a roof spoiler, and changes to the front and rear bumper fascias. Compared to other compact hatchbacks, the Audi A3 simply looks more macho.
Its one exterior drawback is an extended roofline and third side window--to distinguish it from the Volkswagen Golf whose underpinnings it shares--that makes just a little too long to be a harmonious hatchback, but too short as a wagon.
Inside, chrome-trimmed round ventilation grilles and sensibly arranged buttons contribute to the efficient Teutonic air. Certain design elements may look dated to style aficionados, but it remains an upscale and luxurious place to spend time against competitors at the low end of its price range--which is to say, somewhat under $30,000.