Audi A3 review – interior and tech

The last A3 was a masterclass in quiet sophistication, this all-one is not. Tech is fine, but hardly as groundbreaking as it once was

Evo rating
  • Able chassis; low kerbweight; basic ergonomics are right
  • Ride, gearshift and refinement all inferior to non-premium rivals; interior quality a big step backwards

The new A3 has an all-new interior, which was always going to be a point of contention. The previous generation A3 set a new benchmark for interior design and quality, regardless of class or price point. It was packed with sleek detailing, resolved shapes and a true sense of premium that wasn’t reliant on expensive or indulgent materials. Things have changed with the new one. 

To start, the A3’s overall architecture is driven more obviously by the Golf and its other platform mates, instantly making it feel more generic. The A3’s dash is angular and contemporary, but the materials are leagues behind those used on the previous model, and while the aesthetic might seem to mimic the angular and technical look of higher-priced Audi models, this lack of material quality makes it seem cheap and unresolved. 

Audi has tried to counter this with creative use of ambient lighting and faux stitching, but both are poorly integrated and the stitching in particular is an eyesore. Tech is made up from the usual Virtual Cockpit, but the screen hardware is pinched from VW not bigger Audis, while the MMI Touch interface is fine, if not class leading any more. 

Beyond questionable quality and average tech, the real issue inside the A3 is its generic design and architecture. It’s so clearly designed to fit a rigid template set by the Golf, Leon and Octavia, which is something the previous car was free from having to adhere to. The solid centre console, thin dash and Audi-trademark design restraint is all but gone, replaced by a poorly executed, cost-cutting design. While this sounds like a harsh critique of an interior that’s not ostensibly bad, as the latest installment in a model line that has been defined by its interior, the new A3 is a huge disappointment. 

Most Popular

Lotus Emira makes world debut – all-new coupe to rival Alpine A110
Lotus Emira
Lotus

Lotus Emira makes world debut – all-new coupe to rival Alpine A110

Lotus's first all-new car for a quarter of a century comes AMG power and sub-£60,000 price tag
13 Jul 2021
New Audi RS3 revealed – AMG’s A45 S rival returns fitter and faster
2021 Audi RS3 Sportback – front tracking
Audi RS3

New Audi RS3 revealed – AMG’s A45 S rival returns fitter and faster

After months of tech insights, we now finally get to see the all-new Audi RS3 in its finished form
19 Jul 2021
Porsche 911 GT3 Touring 2021 review – pairing the magnificent 992 GT3 experience to a more subtle audience
Porsche 911 GT3 Touring 992 review
Porsche 911 GT3

Porsche 911 GT3 Touring 2021 review – pairing the magnificent 992 GT3 experience to a more subtle audience

There are few, if any, more rewarding, engaging or intense experiences for those in pursuit of the thrill of driving
14 Jul 2021