The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
The A3 provides a great driving position, with a standard front armrest and 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 clear and within easy reach, helped by the central section of the dashboard that's angled towards the driver. Unlike a Volkswagen Golf, the A3 has simple physical switches to operate the climate controls, which helps greatly 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. Upper trims get an enhanced version with a 12.3in screen
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. 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. The standard stereo has six speakers but the Vorsprung trim adds a 15-speaker, 680-watt Bang & Olufsen surround-sound stereo and wireless phone charging.
The A3 compares well with the A-Class for showroom appeal and the materials employed are generally fine. It isn’t the best, though.
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 and lower down on the doors. 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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