Audi A3 Sportback review - Interior, design and technology
Latest exterior styling isn't as pert as the A3 hatchback's, but the Sportback has a superb, spacious cabin
Unlike the old model, the latest Audi A3 Sportback is more than just a five-door A3. Thanks to the extra 35mm in the wheelbase, it rivals its Volkswagen Golf cousin for space. It’s also more practical than a BMW 1 Series.
While some buyers will feel that the Sportback doesn’t look as good as the standard three-door A3, there’s no denying it has a sporty yet classy design. Sport and S line models feature suspension that’s been lowered by 25mm, making the A3 Sportback appear even more hunkered down to the road.
Like the rest of the cars in the Audi line-up, the A3 Sportback’s interior is outstanding thanks to excellent build quality and understated design. All versions are also fitted with air-conditioning, Bluetooth phone connection, DAB, alloy wheels, front foglights and a leather steering wheel as standard.
As you move up the range, the equipment list does grow to a healthy level, but there are still plenty of three and four-figure cost options that can seriously inflate the A3 Sportback’s showroom price.
For maximum visual appeal, the S line models have 18-inch wheels and a bodykit that takes cues from the S3 – which itself benefits from quad exhaust tailpipes, lots of silver highlights on the exterior and unique badging. The RS3 goes a step further, with bulging wheelarches and a pair of fat oval tailpipes.
If buyers don’t intend to spend extra on their Sportback, the standard solid colours are black, white and red. For around £500, metallic and pearl-effect paints can be chosen, while crystal-effect finishes cost about £800 (and include the S3 colours, Sepang Blue and Panther Black). The RS3 gets its own eight-colour palette, two of which are bespoke: Nardo Grey and Catalunya Red.
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If none of these appeals, you can pay around £2,000 to get access to the brand’s entire paint catalogue as part of the Audi exclusive programme. Or spend £2,500 or so and the customised option lets you colour-match your car to any shade you like.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
Audi now fits its entry-level 2D sat-nav on all A3 Sportbacks apart from SE models. This set-up used to cost £495, and list prices have risen by about that much in the process. Still, it’s good to know that the flagship S3 and RS3 models now get factory mapping. The e-tron is the winner here, though, as it features the very best 3D MMI Navigation plus system as standard; this set-up is a pricey option on all other A3 Sportbacks.
All these nav systems are displayed on a 5.8-inch infotainment screen that slides in and out of the dash when you start the engine. It’s controlled by the MMI rotary dial on the centre console.
If you don’t like the default eight-speaker, 80W sound system, Audi offers two audio upgrades. Its own £255 nine-speaker, six-channel, 140W set-up costs around £250, while the high-end Bang & Olufsen upgrade will set you back around £750. But the latter is a stunning set-up, comprising 13 speakers, a 625W, 13-channel amp and full 5.1 surround sound.
In this review
- 1VerdictThe A3 Sportback is one of the best cars Audi makes, with decent practicality, a sharp drive and good looks
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe Audi A3 Sportback shares its lightweight MQB chassis with other VW Group products. This means it’s decent to drive
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThe Audi A3 Sportback won't break the bank to run; even the S3 and RS3 models claim commendable fuel economy
- 4Interior, design and technology - currently readingLatest exterior styling isn't as pert as the A3 hatchback's, but the Sportback has a superb, spacious cabin
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe Sportback has the biggest boot of any A3 with the rear seats folded, plus the most passenger space
- 6Reliability and SafetyA five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating and excellent Driver Power showing make the A3 Sportback an attractive proposition