The Audi A3 Sportback combines a stylish design with plush build quality and cutting-edge infotainment systems – so it’s a shame some key equipment is optional
You’ll find the Audi A3 Sportback‘s controls easy to use on the move. The dashboard design is neat and stylish, and the materials feel plush and look suitably upmarket – what’s more, it feels solid as a rock.
Even the switches and knobs feel a step above that used the Mercedes A-Class and BMW 1 Series – turning the Audi’s temperature dials feels like the winding mechanism on a posh watch. Optional leather seats add an extra dash of class and go well with the Comfort and Sound pack that adds heated front seats and a powerful Bang & Olufsen upgraded stereo.
The Audi’s boxy shape means the rear windows are fairly large, allowing for excellent visibility both out the front and out the rear – this makes the Audi A3 Sportback an easy car to drive around town and makes it feel light inside even with the dark upholstery.
The A3 Sportback is one of the cheaper Audi’s you can buy, but it doesn’t look or feel it because of a smart design and bomb-proof build quality
All versions of the Audi A3 Sportback come with a seven-inch infotainment screen. This system might not be the most advanced and doesn’t include satellite navigation, but operates smoothly and easily using a rotating knob on the centre console that you can push and twist to navigate the menus. Because it’s easy to find and use this knob while driving you can keep your eyes on the road more of the time while using the infotainment system, unlike when you’re using a touchscreen system such as that in a Volkswagen Golf.
This basic system includes DAB digital radio and Bluetooth connectivity but you’re better off using a USB cable to physically connect your smartphone to the car. Once you do so, you can use the standard-fit Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to mirror your smartphone’s music and sat-nav apps on the car’s infotainment screen – so you can effectively add navigation to your Audi A3 Sportback without paying for Audi’s own £500 navigation system. Having these mirroring systems fitted as standard is very rare for cars this size and price, and a nice inclusion by Audi. If you do want Audi’s own navigation system then go for a Sport model, because it comes as standard along with some other decent upgrades.
If you want the most high-tech A3, you should upgrade to the MMI Navigation Plus infotainment system, which costs £1,000 on most models as part of the Technology Pack. This system can display maps from a 3D perspective and can even overlay local landmarks making it easier to learn your way around. It also includes the ability to spell out postcodes by writing letters with your finger on top of the control dial.
Whatever system you go for, you’ll thank yourself for spending another £1,400 on your A3 by adding the optional Technology Pack Advanced, which includes Audi’s sensational Virtual Cockpit digital dials. These replace the traditional speedo and rev counter with a 12.3-inch screen that can be configured to give greater prominence to driving information, or to display a much larger version of the sat-nav screen right in front of the driver with speed information overlaid.