Mellow yellow A3 Sportback and I have been busy on our travels around the country this month. I have joined a small team of roving judges ñ just three of us ñ who are visiting car dealers, sales and service garages and bodyshops up and down the land for some major motor trade awards. There is a lot of ground to be covered, so plenty of miles are disappearing under the Audi’s wheels.
Long hours on the road with just the navigation and radio for company allows lots of time to digest all the little details about the car that particularly please, and the occasional item that doesn’t. I’m a bit of a sucker for good design of car air vents, and they vary enormously across the car scene. They range from dull square mismatched plasticky outlets strewn across the dash area in some models, to elegantly designed and slickly executed adornments to the interior decor of others, vents that are handsome as well as functional. The Audi’s vents are very much in the latter, superior category. They are four chic circles of good taste, high quality and efficiency. They are easy to adjust for direction of flow, and deliver a nice breeze when you need it. That’s a boon on a lengthy cross-country trek in mid-summer. A particularly pleasing feature of the design is the way in which you adjust the volume of air flow, by means of an outer ring that you swivel anti-clockwise to increase flow, and clockwise to lessen it.
Another little detail that constantly pleases is the roller-control for the audio volume. It is located aft of the gear lever and just to the right of it, where it falls very easily to hand. There’s a controller on the steering wheel too, but it’s the one on the centre console that I tend to use most.
In recent bright sunny weather, I have tended to keep the see-through shade across the glass sunroof. It’s a good design, that cuts down the glare and limits the light, but doesn’t exclude it entirely. That’s quite important in a car with a very dark roof lining, which could otherwise make the cabin feel a bit gloomy. Black ceilings in cars are trendy and chic, but have the disadvantage of making the interior seem rather dark at times. It doesn’t matter so much in the front of the car, but in dull weather it can seem mildly oppressive in the back. That’s one of the few details that is a bit Marmite in the A3.
There’s so much else to like about it, including the way it drives with a panache and precision that makes it such low-stress good company over a long distance. The good driving position and seat comfort has a lot to do with it too. On a recent day trip from north Kent to the West Country and back, clocking over 400 miles, I exited the Audi feeling fresh enough to do it all again. Well almost, but supper beckoned. Even so, that says a lot for a car, and elevates it amongst its peers.
Date arrived 20th December 2016
Fuel economy 65.7mpg (combined) 47.7mpg (on test)
Chic circular air vents with rotating outer rings to adjust the flow.
The dark roof lining is a trendy touch, but creates a rather gloomy ambience on a dull day.