Audi A3 hatchback (2012-2017) - Interior & comfort
The Audi A3 has one of the best interiors in this class
The Audi A3's interior is one of its finest attributes. Even the air vents seem to be a work of art. They can rotate and swivel at all angles to make sure they’re pointing exactly where you want.
Audi A3 dashboard
It seems like overkill to go into so much detail on the air vents, but it's a good example of the work that's gone into the cabin. The heater controls, for example, feel robust and are surrounded by a classy illuminated strip of red and blue lights. Then there's the colour screen, which is only a few millimetres thin and slides out of the dashboard when you start up.
The standard seats are seriously comfortable and the driving position is spot-on, so you can drive for hours without feeling too much discomfort. There's loads of adjustment in the seat and the steering wheel, too, so people of all shapes and sizes should find it a breeze to fit in. Optional extras for basic SE models here include heating for the seats and electric lumbar adjustment that gives a little more support for your lower back.
The Audi A3 was the winner of the Best in-car connectivity award for cars costing less than £25,000 at the Car Tech Awards 2016. Apple Carplay and Android Auto are available in all models, meaning you can send Google and Apple maps to the car's infotainment screen, rendering built-in sat-nav less of an essential. The A3 also won the Most user-friendly tech in cars under £25,000 award, and the Audi Virtual Cockpit, which is available as an option, won the Tech of the Year award.
The A3 range starts with the SE, which comes with electric front windows, air-conditioning, cruise control and 16-inch alloy wheels. It also has a seven-inch infotainment screen, concealed in the dashboard when not in use. Using Bluetooth, it can link with your smartphone to enable the use of phone-based apps such as sat nav, but upgrading to SE Technik trim gives you sat-nav built-in. It also brings a different alloy-wheel design.
Sport trim builds on the equipment of the SE Technik, adding 17-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control and a Drive Select system, which enables you to make adjustments to the way the car handles.
The S line model is the sportiest in the conventional range, with a fancier interior, bigger 18-inch alloy wheels and LED lighting front and rear. It also has lowered sports suspension designed to give a more involving, rewarding driving experience. It’s a big improvement over the regular A3, but still doesn’t quite match the driver appeal of some of its latest rivals, though. Enthusiastic drivers would be better off with the sharp, responsive BMW 1 Series.
Choose the A3 Black Edition and you get everything the S line offers, but with chrome exterior trim and the alloy wheels finished in darker colours, along with an enhanced sound system.
Despite the upmarket image of the A3, you still need to pay extra if you want certain features. And there are plenty to choose from.
There are dozens of alloy wheels, seat upholstery trims and dashboard inlays available. You can also spend anything from £200 to more than £1,500 on additional seat adjustment or sumptuous Super Sports Seats. We'd recommend the heated seats (£300) if you’re choosing leather seats, as these can get very cold in winter.
Other options worth considering include Audi Drive Select (which alters the car’s character to offer either a sportier or more efficient drive) and the Technology Package mentioned above (which includes sat nav with handwriting recognition, a DVD player and DAB digital radio).
You can also choose to add a technology pack including the Audi virtual cockpit system, which replaces the traditional dashboard instruments with a single colour display that can show any information you wish, including navigation. It’s excellent in use and makes sat-nav guidance very safe and easy to follow.
The standard-fit stereo is very impressive, but upgraded versions are available, the ultimate of which is the expensive but excellent Bang & Olufsen system.