Updated: This is the Audi A3 Saloon, the third member of the Audi A3 family. We will be driving the car in mid-June, while the UK on-sale date for the new Audi A3 Saloon is summer 2013. Customer deliveries of the standard car will start in October, while the hot S3 saloon will reach customers by January 2014. Prices have yet to be confirmed.
Designed to appeal to younger customers looking for a sporty but fun car, the A3 Saloon is intended to be a first company car for young professionals, particularly in Russia, the US, China and, to a lesser extent, Europe. Partly this is down to a cultural difference where Chinese professionals cannot drive a car that is larger than their superior's so manufacturers are aiming to broaden the range of all the cars they offer to accomodate.
We spoke to Heiko Pabst von Ohain, head of product marketing for the A3: “The car is 4,456mm long, making it 25cm shorter than an A4, but 15cm longer but same wheelbase than an A3 Sportback. It also has 425-litres of boot space, which is 55 less than an A4. All of this is to make sure it is distanced from the new A4.”
Alexander Pesch, head of technical project management for the A3 line-up told us: “The A3 saloon is all about delivering efficiency of every millimetre, so while the car looks low and sporty, there is only 11mm less rear headroom than an A3 Sportback.”
We sat in the back of the saloon and head and legroom for a six-footer sitting behind another six-footer was pretty good. More impressive was the size of the door aperture which gives way more space than the Mercedes CLA to get your head and feet into the car. The boot space is good too with a well-shaped, rectangular space, although while the rear seats split 60:40 they don't go fully flat. Audi says that with the seats down, the A3 Saloon has more boot space than the A3 Sportback.
Next in line for the A3 family is the A3 Cabriolet, which will debut at the Frankfurt show in September. An A3 Avant has also been considered, apparently, but it's not likely unless both the Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake and BMW 2 Series GT are a runaway success.
Three turbocharged four-cylinder engines will be offered from launch. These include a 138bhp 1.4 TFSI that takes the A3 from 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds – but with cylinder deactivation tech and stop-start, the engine promises 60.1mpg economy and emissions of only 109g/km. A 178bhp 1.8 TFSI giving 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds will also be available, along with a 148bhp 2.0 TDI diesel with 67.3mpg and 108g/km of CO2.
At the head of the range, though, will be the storming four-wheel-drive S3, which will rival the Mercedes CLA 45 AMG. With its 2.0-litre TFSI engine delivering nearly 300bhp, it promises huge pace – the six-speed manual version does 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds and the seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic model takes 4.9 seconds.
Order books open for the A3 Saloon in the summer, with deliveries starting in the autumn. The S3 will hitting dealers a few months later. While there’s no word on price, expect a small rise over the A3 Sportback, which costs from £19,825.
The saloon is expected to follow the hatchback's line-up and offer customers SE, Sport and S line trims while Audi is likely to add special edition 'Black' and 'Business' models later in the lifecycle.
Audi has given details on some of the options that will be available in the saloon. Customers can spec their car with a panoramic sunroof, Audi's key access and authorisation system and full LED headlights.
Top-of-the-range MMI Navigation plus comes with an SSD hard drive with 64GB of storage, a DVD drive and voice control. Meanwhile MMI High allows passengers to surf the net through an integrated WLAN hotspot, and access to Google Earth and Google Street View.