Audi A3 S-Line review

Audi A3 Saloon front
10 Sep, 2014 1:00pm Steve Fowler

Need an Audi A3 with a dash more sporting appeal? You need an Audi A3 S-Line


The A3 ups the quality stakes even further, but adds a degree of comfort not usually associated with the name. It may not be as sharp to drive as a BMW 1 Series, but it appeals massively for its more relaxed driving manners, its refinement and its hi-tech gadgets. Even the pricing looks keen.

The Audi A3 S-Line sits at the top of the standard A3 range above entry-level SE and mid-spec Sport models.

S-Line models are picked out from the rest of the A3 range with sporty looks, thanks to larger alloy wheels, more aggressive bumpers, side sill extensions, and different interior trim and seat options. Making the A3 S-Line models yet more distinctive are xenon lights at the front and LED lights at the rear of the car. 

S-Line trim is available across the A3 range. That means 3-door hatch, 5-door Sportback, Cabriolet and Saloon versions are available.  Audi’s comprehensive range of engines is available in the A3 S-Line. On the petrol front, there’s a 1.2-litre TFSI petrol with 108bhp, a 1.4 TFSI, in either 120bhp or 138bhp forms, and a 1.8 TFSI with 178bhp. Diesel-wise, there’s a 1.6 TDI with 103bhp, and two 2.0-litre TDI units – one with 148bhp and the other with 181bhp.

Audi A3 Saloon rear

These engines mirror those of the A3’s VW Group counterparts the VW Golf and SEAT Leon, but the two smaller petrol units are not available in the Cabriolet or Saloon versions of the A3.

Prices start at around £21,500 for the 1.2 TFSI S-Line 3-door, and rise to nearly £35,000 for the top spec 2.0 TDI S-Line with 181bhp, Quattro all-wheel drive and Audi’s six-speed S Tronic gearbox.

All engines are available with either a six-speed manual or S Tronic gearbox, and Quattro all-wheel drive is available on the higher-powered 1.8 TFSI and 2.0 TDI engines.

On the inside, S-Line models are marked out over SE and Sport models primarily by S-Line embossed half-leather sports seats, a flat-bottomed 3-spoke multifunction steering wheel, aluminium dash inlays and black headlining.

Audi A3 Saloon interior

Our biggest criticism of previous A3s was that they were uninspiring to drive and the ride was fairly uncomfortable.  The latest model is a step forward over the previous model, though. It corners confidently and the ride – on standard suspension – is much improved over the old model, with only a slight hint of firmness. However, the electromechanical steering doesn’t give the greatest amount of feedback in the corners.

If you’re really pressing on, mid-corner bumps can upset the A3 slightly, and this is particularly noticeable on the A3 S-Line fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels. The standard suspension on the S-Line is lowered by 25mm over other models, but this can be deselected and replaced by the standard A3 suspension setup – making the S-Line much better on the road.

The A3 S-Line is a very refined drive. There’s very little road noise, the engines are hushed and there’s only a small amount of wind noise present. The 1.6 TDI and 138bhp 1.4 TFSI engines offer a good mix of performance and economy – the petrol uses Audi’s cylinder-on-demand technology and shuts down ones that aren’t in use to save fuel.

Higher-powered units are slightly more compromised. The 1.8 TFSI is brisk but uneconomical, and the 2.0 TDI with 181bhp has great power and economy figures, but at the expense of refinement. 

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The original premium hatch returns.

Really liking the sounds of this. The design and engineering sounds really smart, as well as the level of technology.

And as quoted "it’s interior style and quality that Audi has become famous for and both have been stepped up another notch".

The evolutional design instead of revolutional one, is obviously audi Cottoning on to the fact they were the best selling car manufacturer of 2011.

If it aint broke don't fix it and i think it works really well.

the 1 series is better in every single department good try though
need to try harder audi Sorry

With the 1-series, new A-class and now the A3, not to mention the next Golf coming at the end of the year, it going to be interesting to see results of a group test of them all. Guess it may depend on the testers to see what's wins out? It's a good time to be in the market for a small executive car.
Can't understand "slayer's" comment above - need to have a full test before any conclusion could be made. ;-()

If its still boring fix it.

Man has evolved faster than the A3. Ha! Excellent quote.

Thinking of the greatness of the A3's design 15 years ago makes me sad to look at this car today.

Should have gone to specsavers

Don't understand this para - surely a contradiction in terms?

Our biggest criticism of A3s of old is that they haven’t been that good to drive, while the ride has bordered on the uncomfy. Not any more – the standard cars still aren’t the sharpest to drive, electromechanical steering doesn’t give the greatest amount of feedback, while mid-corner bumps can cause the car to lurch a bit if you’re going really fast.

Otherwise - sounds like the best bet is wait for the next Golf on the MBQ platform and save yourseld a shed load of cash for pretty much the same car...

before it even hits the road. I guess that those hundreds of designers working at Audi wish they would have had a little bit more leeway to differentiate.

Anyway, it is good news to other brands. The BMW 1 Series is way too ugly to score huge appeal, the Merc A Series looks weird, and I am not too sure about the new sub-premium Volvo V40.

I really do not understand all the media attention for this car, it is a very boring car to look at. The technical inovation is limited, it will sell however like every Audi. Instead, I go for the v40, the surprise of the last Geneva motorshow, far better to look at, more safety features and superb quality.

It's an Audi style body on a VW platform. If that's what you want buy the new Golf. If you want something truly premium buy the BMW.

Strikingly different to the A1/A4/A5/A6/A7/A8? I wish.

It's like the design engineers at Audi have all been sacked and replaced by a photocopier which automatically reduces or enlarges. It might save tham a few €m in development costs but it will lose them a lot of customers (the ones that haven't already left due to the still-far-too-hard S-Line suspension).

That said, at least it's nowhere near as ugly as the 1 series, or Audi wouldn't be able to sell any cars at all.

Beam me up Scotty!

Ha ha. You say "facts are also true". Ha ha. facts are a facts which are always true dear Julie. Wow, 3 Audi's. Audi tech? Or car washer? You and your cousin still crowded around the computer again? Always assumptions about me when you know nothing but can't help telling me about your sad life. Ok. Audi's are great. Love them. Even though they are Skoda's.

take a good look now, because probably in about 3 months time they will have changed the lights, grille etc with a facelift, & all the robbed, duped, wannabe, clueless, brainless, gobsh-tes wil be queueing up again to get the 'latest ' model. Keep playing into Audis hands boys, they're making a fortune out of your stupidity. Like i've said countless times, just how ' quality ' can plastic & fake ' leather ' be? Badge snobbery nonsense at its worst.

well i like it

...but please, please, please don't attack each other. We love a good debate but please don't let it get personal.

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Was expecting "fluidic" design but once again shrinked photo copy of a4 on front. Why can Audi designer start taking inspiration for there neighbor BMW and give us something better then that.

Already Audi has given shrinked and stretched photo copies of same design in A3 A4 A5 A6... it has become all too predictable now. May be Audi need to hire sweedish or korean designers..

The comments made here that 'the A3 is an expensive Golf' is ridiculous.

I drive an A3 Sportback 2.0 TDI on a company car scheme, and in deciding which car to get I compared the two below - which are basically the comparable models from each manufacturer:

VW GOLF 'GT' 2.0 TDI 140: £22,715
Audi A3 SPORTBACK 2.0 TDI 140 'SPORT': £21,465 (Add full leather? List price = £22,485 - still cheaper than the Golf!)

In addition to the clear fact that the VW Golf list price is more expensive, the Audi A3 has start/stop technology so the emissions and car tax are considerably lower, which makes a huge difference.

In addition I chose the A3 because as a motorway driver it had far better sound insulation inside the cabin, the interior was better put together, and the boot & back seats of the Sportback have got more space - it is considerably more car for the money vs. the Golf, and, cheaper.

Maybe I am missing something?

As the happy owner of a 58 reg A3, I was quite attracted to this new model. But the delays in releasing the Sportback version have driven me elsewhere, coupled with the fact that Audi are still taking the p*ss on equipment levels and options. For example, although virtually every other new car on sale in UK comes with a DAB radio as standard, Audi want nearly £400 for this as an option, even on their highest spec models. They are having a laugh.