2013 Audi A3 Comfort & Quality

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Comfort & Quality

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.

The 2013 Audi A3's materials and style put in firmly in luxury territory, but tight quarters and road noise betray its age.

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.

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