The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
The A3 Sportback provides a great driving position, with loads of steering wheel and seat adjustment. The only quibble is that, unless you go for the range-topping Vorsprung trim, four-way powered lumbar adjustment is an option. We'd recommend adding it, because it can really make a difference on long journeys and it's not drastically expensive.
All of the controls and screens you use frequently are within clear sight and easy reach, helped by the central area of the dashboard being angled towards the driver. That includes simple physical switches to operate the climate controls, which really helps with ease of use.
Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital instrument display comes as standard and shows all your driving information on a crisp, 10.3in screen, with various layouts to select from.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Slim pillars and large windows ensure that the A3 provides a good all-round view out. Rear parking sensors are included on all versions, while ascending the trim hierarchy or ticking some option boxes will give you front sensors, a full 360deg birds-eye view camera, and even a system that can park the car for you.
Bright LED headlights come as standard, but on Vorsprung trim these are upgraded to Matrix LEDs, which can adapt the main beams so they can remain on in traffic without dazzling other drivers.
Sat nav and infotainment
That’s because there are no physical controls. So, instead of being able to keep most of your attention on the road while you scroll down a list and make selections using the rotary controller in the 1 Series (or the touchpad in the A-Class), in the A3 you have to look directly at the touchscreen to find and hit the icon you need.
On the plus side, the screen is sharp, with good graphics, and the menus respond quickly. It's also packed with features – including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration plus in-built navigation – while Vorsprung trim adds a Bang & Olufsen surround-sound stereo with more power and extra speakers. That's an option on lower trims, as is wireless phone charging.
The A3 compares well with the A-Class for showroom appeal, and its materials are generally of good quality. But it isn’t faultless.
The dashboard’s prominent plastic ledge isn't particularly appealing when you touch it, plus there are some cheaper-feeling materials around the centre console. You can argue the same is true of the A-Class, but the 1 Series feels plusher and more solid throughout, as does the cheaper Mazda 3 for that matter.
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