The new-for-2022 Audi A3 sedan is the most accessible vehicle in the brand’s lineup. Starting at $35,895 (including $1,095 in destination fees), it provides an affordable luxury entry with a compact footprint and frisky handling in a stylish package. We’ve already told you how it drives. Here, we take a close look inside the 2022 A3 Quattro.
The first things to notice are the digital displays. There’s one directly in front of the driver, serving as the gauge cluster. This 12.3-inch full-color “Virtual Cockpit Plus” is available in the $2,250 Technology package, with which this tester is equipped, and also includes navigation, road sign recognition and a Bang & Olufsen audio system. Virtual Cockpit is also part of the top-of-the-line Prestige Package, which also adds a head-up display and matrix LED headlights.
The infotainment system features a 10.1-inch screen, slanted just slightly toward the driver. It’s easy to reach and use, thankfully, as Audi no longer uses a separate user interface on the center console. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard, if you prefer to bring that familiar phone user experience to your A3’s infotainment screen.
Audi tends to play around with minimalism in very tasteful and architectural ways. It’s a design aesthetic that is inoffensive and unobtrusive at worst, but the potential subject of deep appreciation for fans of modernism. The small, monolithic shifter surrounded by piano black plastic and flanked by the ignition button and audio control, um, circle is a good example. Piano black may be starting to feel almost as played out as carbon fiber, but it’s deployed nicely here.
Speaking of those audio controls, this circle thing is weird (below). Tap up to turn it on/off, down to mute, left or right to select tracks or stations, and swirl your finger in a circle to adjust the volume. All of this used to be accomplished by a more traditional knob in Audis. We love its tight packaging of said controls, helping to reinforce that clean look of the cabin, but we’re don’t actually like using it — unlike the old knob. We mostly just used the redundant audio controls on the steering wheel instead.
Also residing on the steering wheel are a pair of paddle shifters, which help to make this peppy, agile sedan even more engaging, allowing you to pluck your way through the S-Tronic transmission’s seven gears in manual mode without taking a hand off the wheel.
The A3 has hard buttons and a compact digital display for the climate controls, as opposed to rotary dials or, God forbid, touch sensitive sliders. If you look closely you can see some slight imperfection in the fit. The fact that the metal ridges on the bottom of the buttons don’t align absolutely perfectly isn’t something we noticed when driving the car, but only became apparent when photographing it. We thought we’d point it out, but we’ll still give this one a pass.
In addition to the modest center console bin and cupholders — which, depending on how many beverages you tend to bring along or the size of your water bottles, may or may not be used for storing drinks — there’s a cubby below the center stack with a wireless phone charger, plus a pair of USB-C ports. As more of our devices use this port standard, we’re glad to use them and not have to guess if we’re trying to plug it in upside-down, though having a standard USB port available somewhere would be useful for the multiple charging cables we still have lying around.
There’s meager storage in the front door pockets, too.
Looking closer at that door panel, we see some of the interesting, sculptural design Audi likes to put in its cars. Here, though, we also see Audi step out of its minimalist comfort zone for a more energetic aesthetic. There are angles upon angles. This might be the busiest part of the A3’s interior, stylistically speaking. It’s not visually cumbersome when you’re sitting in the driver’s seat with the door shut, but with the door ajar, it’s like having a statue in front of a modern art museum, inviting you inside for further exploration. Just look at the interior door handle. It’s almost like a Tony Smith piece.
That said, there’s a lot of hard plastic there, and it doesn’t feel great to the touch. This has been a trend with recent Audis, including the Q5, Q3 and A4, which all had lower-quality materials than the vehicles they replaced. The A3 is the same. Thankfully, we don’t spend much time fondling things like door trim and dashboards. This A3 also has the leatherette-covered door armrests as part of the $3,300 Premium Plus Package (which also adds things like that wireless phone charger, driver’s seat memory, alarm system, auto-dimming and folding mirrors, and some driver assist, safety and convenience tech).
The Premium Plus package also adds adaptive cruise control, but it retains the antiquated and cheap-feeling stalk on the steering column to control it. This is another function we’d like to see added to the steering wheel controls, for the sake of ease of use.
Audi being a luxury brand, the leather upholstery feels right at home, and the Santos brown is a nice, warm contrast to the black plastic and metal found elsewhere. The suede trimmings and light stitching are a nice look, too. The seats are comfortable, and easily adjustable using the controls on the outboard side of the seats. There’s a lumbar support adjustment, too.
Though there’s a share of drab black plastic, it’s broken up easily in this small car with the use of other materials, like the stitching across the dash and “Platinum gray” inlays. The “Agate gray fine grain birch” wood and LED ambient lighting are part of a $550 Interior Style package.
The rear seats are surprisingly roomy — a benefit of the A3’s 2022 redesign. We wouldn’t want to sit directly in front of a rear-facing child seat, but a kid in a front-facing high-back booster has plenty of legroom. Even long-legged adults can abide the back seat of the A3.
Speaking of car seats, the lower LATCH anchors are easy to find and use. They reside behind plastic covers that flip up and out of the way, which is a much easier solution than digging around between the seatback and cushion. We also appreciate not having to find a place to stash the covers (and ultimately lose them).
The rear passengers don’t have much say over the climate controls. They can merely adjust the direction and flow of the vents on the rear of the center console. They do get a pair of USB-C ports for charging their devices, though.
There’s not a lot of room to put things back there. The door pockets are small, and the mesh seatback pockets don’t accommodate much. They also don’t help to put items out of sight.
The trunk isn’t huge, but the large opening makes it easy to take full advantage of its 10.9 cubic-foot volume. There’s also a detachable cargo net to keep loose items from sliding or rolling around while you fling the A3 through roundabouts on your way home from the grocery store. If you need to stash more than the trunk alone can fit, you can take advantage of the 40/20/40-split folding rear seats, as well, so long as they’re not being used by passengers. Beneath that load floor is a compact spare tire.
Overall, the interior of the Audi A3 is comfortable. The extensive use of disappointing plastics is made up for with truly interesting and aesthetically pleasing design, and the geometric styling and clever placement of accents and trim pieces to break up what would be an otherwise monotonous cabin. Sure, there are some things to nitpick (which is especially inevitable in such a targeted review), but overall, this interior feels like it lives up to Audi’s brand cachet and the A3’s entry-luxury price point.