Since its introduction in 1999, the Audi A3 has been the conservative and consistent, if somewhat predictable, option in the premium family hatchback class. Now into its fourth generation, there’s no longer a three-door body, but to compensate, the designers have delivered a more appealing design for the five-door Sportback version.
Just like its new-generation Seat Leon, Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Golf relations, the new A3 uses an evolution of the Volkswagen Group’s ubiquitous MQB platform, with enhancements to accommodate a wider spread of powertrain options that will include mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants.
Three main specifications will make up the A3 offering: Sport, Technik and S line, with each receiving subtle exterior styling differences. In the case of Technik and S line, the headlights feature a small panel of 15 LEDs that provides different light signatures for each version to give greater visual differentiation. Audi distinguishes the S line exterior further with larger honeycomb structures for the side vents and the three Quattro-inspired (blanked-off) slots in the front of the bonnet. Higher-spec Edition 1 and Vorsprung versions will arrive after the start of sales.
Anyone stepping out of the relatively minimalist cabin of the previous A3 and into this new one will be in for a shock, albeit mostly a pleasant one. There is a wider variety of materials and a dashboard that is, to a degree, split in two, with a more driver-focused design.
Every A3 will come with a 10.25in digital instrument display as standard, with Audi offering a larger 12.3in version (as already featured in several of its other models) as an optional upgrade. There’s also a 10.1in touchscreen that runs Audi’s latest MIB3 infotainment system. Smartphone mirroring for Android and Apple devices is available, although not wirelessly at launch. Usefully, there are both USB-A and USB-C ports in the centre console and an angled wireless device charging pad.
As in other smaller models in the Audi range, there isn’t a secondary touchscreen for the climate control settings. Instead, there’s a small cluster in the lower section of the dashboard with easy-to-reach physical buttons that make frequent adjustments possible without glancing away from the road. This is the preferable set-up in our opinion.
The A3’s seats are also new and, in a bid to improve its environmental credentials, Audi now uses materials for the inlays that are manufactured from recycled PET bottles. According to the company, each A3 uses 45 discarded 1.5-litre plastic bottles in every set of seats with the new material.