Quality » 7
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QUALITY | 7 out of 10
Some coarse-surface tire thrum is noticeable on base models, and it rises with the available 18-inch tires.
4.5 more cubic feet of cargo space (19.5 total) compared with that of a five-door Golf, an advantage that would be better appreciated if the split-folding rear seats would fold completely flat
Car and Driver
rear-seat room is a bit limited
traveling at 65 mph or 70 mph, the A3 TDI still had plenty of boost to pass other cars or climb hills
Up front you get sport seats with leather and Alcantara trim, and while the rear seat is a bit tight, it's definitely usable.
It may be the oldest model in Audi's lineup--and the cheapest, too--but the 2013 Audi A3 hardly screams "cost cutting" when you get in and sit down. The materials have a premium look and feel, and controls are solid and well laid-out, and it feels throughout like a smaller Audi rather than luxury laid over a small-car base.
Seat upholstery is leather on the seating surfaces, and the seats are comfortable--though a few test drivers have grumbled that they could be better bolstered at the sides to hold driver and passengers in place during energetic driving. The seating position is low, which can pose problems for short drivers and challenges getting in and out for older ones.
Cabin space is confined, with a barely acceptable rear seat where two adults will only readily spend time if they're on the smaller side and front-seat passengers are willing to slide their seats forward a few inches.
There's been a lot of bracket creep since the Audi A3 hit the streets, and many "compact" hatchbacks today sport far more interior space for both people and goods. Load-bay storage space is also disappointing, a bit less than 20 cubic feet with the seats up. That space doubles if you fold down the 60/40 split rear seatback, turning the little A3 into a practical two-seat goods hauler.
The other area where the A3 now shows its age is the intrusion of road noise, especially on coarse pavement, into the cabin. It combines with tire hum from the low-profile tires to make the car louder than the best of its class. And if you choose to forgo the optional magnetic ride system, the ride quality can get stiff and transmit pavement imperfections from all but glassy-smooth surfaces.
The 2013 Audi A3's materials and style put in firmly in luxury territory, but tight quarters and road noise betray its age.