The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
The A3 Saloon provides a fundamentally good driving position, although four-way powered lumbar adjustment is only an option on the Sport and S line trims. We'd recommend adding this, because it can really make a difference on long journeys.
All of the controls and screens you use frequently are within clear sight or easy reach, helped by the centre area of the dashboard being angled towards the driver. This includes simple physical switches to operate the climate controls.
Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital instrument display comes as standard. It shows all the driving information on a crisp, 10.3in screen, with various layouts to select from.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Slim front pillars ensure that the A3 Saloon provides a good view ahead. If you're worried about the thicker rear pillars and projecting boot, rear parking sensors are included on all versions, while ascending the trim hierarchy or ticking some option boxes can 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 higher trims, 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 mouse pad in the A Class (or the even better rotary controller in the 3 Series), 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. The optional Bang & Olufsen surround-sound stereo, which comes as part of the Comfort and Sound Pack, adds more power and extra speakers, while another option to consider is wireless phone charging.
The A3 compares well with the A Class Saloon 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 that you'll find if you go hunting for them. You can argue the same is true of the A Class, but the 2 Series Gran Coupé has a better fit and finish, and there are – admittedly pricier – larger executive saloons, such as the 3 Series and Audi’s own A4, that feel both plusher and more robust.
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