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In-depth reviews

Audi A3 – 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
Price
from £28,650
  • Able chassis, low kerbweight, basic ergonomics are right
  • Ride and refinement severely lacking, interior quality a big step backwards

The A3's cabin was completely redesigned for this generation, but despite this, it fails to better its predecessor. The previous generation A3 set a 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. 

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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. 

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Audi has tried to counter this with creative use of ambient lighting and faux stitching, but both are poorly integrated – the dash-top 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 instalment of a model line that has been defined by its interior, the new A3 is a huge disappointment. 

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