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Audi A3 interior, tech and practicality

Comfort and visibility

Simply put, the Audi A3 has one of the best interiors of any family hatch. You get the quality materials and construction from a larger Audi, at a price much closer to a Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus. There’s state-of-the-art tech and plush upholstery, which feels great to touch and should keep you comfortable on long journeys. A leather steering wheel comes as standard.

All the buttons feel solid, and it’s great that Audi has kept physical controls on the steering wheel, plus buttons for the heating and ventilation functions. These are intuitive to work out and easy to use while driving.

Generally, visibility is very good although, as with many cars, there are some small over-the-shoulder blind spots caused by the pillars.

Standard equipment

The entry-level A3 Technik trim looks a little dour but is still fairly generous when it comes to standard equipment. You get cruise control, sat nav, rear parking sensors, a lane-departure warning system, DAB radio, air conditioning and LED headlights without having to dip into the options list.

The A3 Sport trim level swaps the Technik’s 16-inch alloy wheels for 17-inch ones and adds chrome exterior detailing. You can change the driving mode between Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Efficiency and Individual from the comfort of the front sports seats. The air con is upgraded to two-zone climate control.

A little misleadingly, S Line is Audi’s sporty trim, and the A3 S Line ups the size of the wheels again along with swapping the standard suspension for a slightly lower and firmer sports suspension setup. The sporty makeover is achieved by a more aggressive body kit, S-branded seats, a dark headliner, stainless steel pedals and tinted rear windows.

Black Edition tops the range and includes 19-inch wheels and a black styling pack. You get a flat-bottomed steering wheel and Audi logo puddle lights – the must-have feature, we’re sure you’ll agree…

Edition 1 was a launch-edition trim level with big wheels, heated seats and a reversing camera.

The S3 comes in Black Edition and Vorsprung trim, with the latter offering a ridiculous amount of equipment such as Matrix LED headlights that give you full-beam light without blinding other drivers, along with additional active safety features and a premium Bang & Olufsen sound system.

Infotainment and audio

All A3s come with a slick 10.1-inch touchscreen and an equally slick 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster – there’s no disappointing small-screen base model here. Higher-spec cars come with more configuration for the digital dials, but even the cheapest A3 boasts pin-sharp graphics and an expansive sat nav screen that can fill nearly the whole dial cluster.

It’s pretty easy to get around the dial cluster menus using the steering wheel buttons and, in this respect, it’s better than the BMW 1 Series – which has a slightly confusing dial display that wasn’t standard until recently – and the Mercedes A-Class, with its somewhat fiddly steering wheel controls.

The A3’s MMI touchscreen is also easy to use, with big tiles that quickly get you from the home screen to a submenu. One of the main menu screens allows you to see your media, phone and sat nav at a glance, giving all the must-know info in one place. Some of the functions hidden in submenus could be easier to find, and the screen requires a harder press than you might expect – although haptic feedback that buzzes when you press the screen makes it easy to know when the screen has registered your input.

Devoted music enthusiasts will revel in the Bang & Olufsen sound system, which comes as standard on the S3 Vorsprung and is optional – as part of the Technology Pack – elsewhere, but more casual listeners won’t find much wrong with the standard six-speaker audio system.

Rear seat space

It may be one of Audi’s smaller models, but the A3 offers good interior space. Six-foot-tall adults will be perfectly comfortable in the back, especially as Audi has cleverly cut out the front seatbacks to give tall passengers more knee room. The seats themselves are nicely reclined and very comfortable. You wouldn’t have too many complaints on long journeys.

There’s more legroom and headroom than in the Mercedes A-Class or BMW 1 Series, so the A3 is the best choice if you’re going to be carrying adults in the back seats. And it’s the best choice for seating three adults across the rear bench, with wide seats, good amounts of elbow room and a smaller transmission tunnel than its main rivals. This, coupled with a slim central armrest, gives the middle-seat occupant a little more space than they’d get in rivals.

The Isofix child-seat mounting points are easily accessible and not hidden away, and the door pockets are a good size – although it seems a little cheap that they’re not flock-lined like they are in the Volkswagen Golf to stop items rattling. The storage nets on the seatbacks aren’t fitted on every trim level, either. But these are minor issues in an otherwise comfortable and spacious cabin.

Boot space

The Audi A3 has a 380-litre boot, which is unchanged from the previous-generation car. It’s competitive with rivals, being on a par with the Golf and SEAT Leon and offering fractionally more space than the 1 Series, A-Class and Focus, albeit 50 litres less than the DS 4. The A3 hatchback has a wide, tall and square boot opening, making it easy to load bulky items. Handily, there’s not much of a load lip to get heavy items over.

On all trim levels except Technik, the rear seats fold individually to boost versatility. With the seats dropped, you’ve got up to 1,200 litres to play with, although the rear seats don’t fold completely flat.

You can also choose an A3 saloon, with an arguably sleeker shape and a 425-litre boot. The trade-off is a much smaller boot opening so, if you carry bulky items like furniture or large pushchairs, the hatchback will be the better choice.

To make space for its battery, the plug-in hybrid A3 has a much higher boot floor and a considerably smaller boot. Its 280-litre offering isn’t great for a car of this size – the DS 4 E-Tense has a 390-litre boot – and, like many PHEVs, there’s no room for a spare wheel. You’ll probably have to keep the charging cables in the boot, too.

With their four-wheel-drive mechanicals, the S3 and RS 3 hot hatches also offer less boot space than the standard A3.

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