Not that this diesel is short on performance; despite a slight dither while the engine and 'box agree terms, the 2.0 TDI picks up well and feels brilliantly muscular across its mid-range in all driving modes. It certainly feels a little brisker than its sprint times suggests, especially in its most urgent Dynamic mode.
This 2.0 goes about its business in a more hushed fashion than its lesser 1.6 stablemate, too, but isn't afraid to let itself be known when really pushed hard. Still, it settles nicely at a steady speed and the A3's diesel rivals are similarly raucous at high engine speeds. There's also very little wind or road noise to speak of at high speed.
Even in its most sporting S line form (albeit, in our car's case, with its sports suspension deleted) the A3 remains a very competent but hardly inspiring steer. Wearing large 18in wheels, an S line feels a touch sharper when changing direction, and builds on lesser models' already stout grip. There's little playfulness from the A3's chassis, however, and its precise but hardly invigorating steering rarely excites.
Still, our car rode a not-perfect German test route well, showing off taut but compliant damping. Over the very poorest of sections that we encountered (of which there were few) there was more of the tell-tale noise and fidget from the A3's MQB underpinnings, but certainly not enough to cause concern.
The A3's party piece, though, is its interior quality, and it's still class-leading in that respect. Dense, soft materials, beautifully damped switches and cold-to-the-touch metallic surfaces adorn the cabin, giving it real class-above appeal.
Our car's brilliant Virtual Cockpit can now be added as part of a pricey £1395 Advanced Technology Package (on Sport and S Line models only), but we'd say it's worth the extra cash if you can afford it. Vitally, it's clear and easy to use, but is also visually superb. Once you consider the pack also includes Audi's larger-screened Navigation Plus infotainment system, advanced online services and wireless smartphone charging (if your phone supports it, that is), it looks to be of fairly good value.
Two tall adults won't feel confined in the front seats, while the driver will find it easy to manually adjust his or her nicely-supportive seat and the steering wheel to their desired position. Like its closest rivals, the A3's rear seats are best at catering for two further adults rather than three. Those two passengers will find good shoulder and head room available, and also good knee room, so long as those in the front aren't unusually lanky. Boot space is unchanged at a competitive 365 litres, remaining easily accessible and practically shaped.