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Used Audi A3 review: 2012 to 2020 (Mk3) - Interior, comfort and safety

The Audi A3 has a high-quality, good-looking interior with a good amount of equipment and comfortable seats

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3.5 out of 5

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Inside is where the Audi A3 Sportback really justifies its premium price. Materials are of the highest quality and feel anchored to the car for life, the styling is tasteful and restrained, the dashboard is well ordered and the range of standard equipment impresses. 

Look out for models with Audi’s optional ‘Virtual Cockpit’ – which replaced the traditional dashboard dials with a high-resolution 12.3-inch TFT screen. In general, the A3 is a comfortable car, but the hard suspension on S Line (and the S3 and RS3 models) can be a bit harsh for bumpy roads, so we prefer lower-spec models for comfort.

What’s the Audi A3 like inside?

The A3 Sportback’s dashboard is handsome and well organised. Higher-spec models get additional flashes of aluminium detailing, but if it’s a radical design you’re looking for, you’re better off elsewhere.

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The dash is dominated by the neatly implemented infotainment screen, with an intuitive control wheel and a small selection of buttons that are raised to make them easier to find in the dark. Thanks to every-which-way adjustment of the seat and steering wheel, it’s easy to find the perfect driving position. The steering-wheel-mounted controls are top-quality, but voice control of key functions is also included as standard.

It all feels very high quality and the materials are robust but also look upmarket. It’s plainer than some rivals, such as the Mercedes A-Class, but it has a real feeling of quality as a result and has aged better as well.

What’s on the equipment list?

On earlier cars even entry-level SE trim has all the equipment you could want, coming with alloy wheels, a 5.8-inch infotainment display, Bluetooth, ISOFIX child-seat fixings, electric mirrors, a multifunction steering wheel and electric windows. The popular S Line model (there are always lots for sale) comes with more kit than the SE and Sport, as well as sporty add-ons such as larger alloy wheels and a bodykit.

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In later cars the SE Technik trim was added, and came with air-conditioning, automatic windscreen wipers and xenon headlights, cruise control, an infotainment screen, Bluetooth phone connectivity and 16-inch alloy wheels. Sport and S Line models were still available, offering leather trim, aluminium detailing, dual-zone air conditioning and firmer sports seats. 

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Avoid Black Edition cars unless you love the look and get a particularly good deal, because the additions were cosmetic and the huge alloy wheels fitted tend to spoil the comfort. 

Later cars came with a larger infotainment system as well, but in all models the system is really easy to use and has pretty much all the features you could want. We love how it retracts into the dash when you’re not using it.

How safe is it?

The A3 Sportback was awarded five out of five stars for crash safety by testing body Euro NCAP. Driver, passenger-side body, head and knee airbags are all standard, in addition to front seatbelt pretensioners and an adaptive brake light that flashes during an emergency stop to warn following drivers.

Optional safety equipment includes rear cross-traffic alert to take some of the stress out of reversing, and Audi’s Traffic Jam Assist system. This uses adaptive cruise control to help keep pace with traffic for you, as well as automatically steering and applying the brakes at speeds up to 37mph.

In a low-speed crash with a pedestrian, the active bonnet pops up to create more space between it and the engine to reduce injury. Meanwhile, electronic stability control keeps the car on the straight and narrow by braking individual wheels to prevent skids on slippery roads.

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