The A3 is certainly pleasant to drive, however, the steering is nicely weighted unless you put it in sticky-feeling Dynamic mode, the gearchange is slick and the engine has plenty of pull from less than 1500rpm. That’s handy because the gearing is on the long side.
It’s easy to precisely place the front of the car, turn-in feels keen and grip is plentiful. You won’t feel much roll either, certainly not on the 15mm lower sports suspension that comes as standard on S line cars.
Quick through corners it may be, but you never get the sense the A3 is particularly playful. You also feel plenty of the road’s imperfections through the seat of your pants - it takes a very smooth road for the ride to be totally calm.
Thankfully you can opt for a slightly softer suspension setup for free if you’re dead set on S line trim. It won’t transform the A3 but should make it a more relaxed cruiser. Better still, look at one of the smaller wheeled Sport models, because the S line’s 18in rims do it no favours.
Few buy an A3 because they want B-road thrills, however. No, you’d probably be more interested in the high-quality interior and glitzy new tech. Step inside and you can’t argue with the array of soft-touch materials and precise controls.
Naturally, there are some harder materials lower down the dashboard, doors and centre console, but these are well hidden and to be expected on a car at this price point. Besides, you’re more likely to be drawn to the 7.0in infotainment screen and optional virtual cockpit.
This is the same system as fitted to the likes of the R8 and A4, enabling you to switch between traditional looking dials with a central info screen, to displays that prioritise the sat-nav, music, trip computer or telephone. It’s impressive, especially in how it conveys so much information so clearly and attractively.
Also new are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. After plugging our iPhone in, it took just a couple of inputs from the MMI controller between the seats to get it to connect to the car. If you prefer, you can still connect via 'old-fashioned' Bluetooth.
You also have the option of the Audi phone box that can improve your phone’s signal and also charge wirelessly should your device be compatible. You can even use the free Audi MMI connect app to access streaming services and transfer calendar items to the car.
The A3 can be made safer than ever, too. You can have a rear cross traffic assist that warns if you’re about to reverse into something’s path and even a traffic jam assist that can accelerate, brake and steer for you.
As for practicality, the Sportback may be better than the BMW 1 Series but still isn’t the most spacious of hatchbacks. Head room could be better and your knees are awfully close to the front seatbacks. Boot space is better than many rivals, though, and is on a par with the VW Golf.