Audi A3 Saloon 2.0 TDI

18 Jun, 2013 12:00pm

The Audi A3 Saloon is set to be the biggest-selling A3 globally. Does it have appeal for UK buyers?

Verdict

4
The A3 Saloon is set to be the biggest-selling A3 worldwide, but that’s down to markets like China and the US. In the UK, buyers are likely to stick with the hatch, despite the saloon’s excellent refinement and grown-up driving dynamics. It makes a great alternative to the A4, but for family buyers, the A3 Sportback has the edge with its extra rear seat space.

The new Audi A3 Saloon isn’t the first of the new breed of premium compact saloons – that honour has to go to the Mercedes CLA. But Audi has big plans for this newcomer, predicting it’ll go on to become the best-selling A3 within two to three years.

That explains why the saloon is changed so comprehensively from the three-door hatch and Sportback models – every single body panel has been updated to help create this new design.

In our eyes, it’s the most attractive member of the A3 family yet, and while the front end could be more adventurous, the sharp tail-lights are a really eye-catching addition.

The saloon measures 4,456mm, making it 150mm longer than the Sportback, but with an identical wheelbase. It’s also 11mm wider and 9mm lower, plus 35kg heavier.

Despite this, the saloon feels a lot like any other A3. We drove the 148bhp 2.0 TDI model, which will be available from launch alongside the 138bhp 1.4 TFSI and 177bhp 1.8 TFSI. More engines, ranging from the 104bhp 1.6 TDI to the new 296bhp S3, will be introduced during 2014.

As you’d expect, the saloon is extremely refined. Even on a cold start, this 2.0-litre engine is smooth and quiet, and provides really flexible performance. Its maximum torque of 320Nm arrives between 1,750 and 3,000rpm, providing a nice, progressive punch of acceleration in the mid-range and launching the car from 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds – a tenth of a second slower than the three-door, and identical to the Sportback.

Fuel economy and CO2 emissions are 67.3mpg and 108g/km respectively – that’s better than the CLA 220 CDI’s 62.8mpg and 117g/km.

On the road, the A3 saloon feels a little bit firm, but even with the optional sports suspension fitted, you never have to worry about crashing into large potholes or rattling over drain covers – it simply deals with everything quietly and comfortably.

All versions of the saloon use a multilink rear suspension set-up, which is better at dealing with rough roads and improves the handling. On the Sportback and three-door models, any engines with under 120bhp get a more basic torsion beam rear axle.

In typical Audi fashion, it’s difficult to criticise the handling, other than to say it’s a little uninspiring. The steering feels direct and quick enough without providing too much feel, and the chassis has enough grip to tackle corners at surprisingly high speeds, without much excitement. But that kind of involving drive won’t be key for most buyers.

Cabin quality is higher than you’ll find in the A4 and even gets close to the A5. The level of refinement on the motorway isn’t far off what those models can achieve, either, so A3 saloon buyers only need to be concerned with the amount of space on offer.

The boot has a capacity of 425 litres, which is 45 litres more than in the A3 Sportback and 55 litres less than in the A4. Fold the rear seats down, and you can extend the boot to 880 litres, plus there’s even the option of a load-through hatch and a reversible floor mat.

It’s in the back where you’ll be more aware than anywhere else of this car’s label as a ‘compact’ saloon. If you’re over six feet tall, and plan on sitting up straight, then you’ll definitely brush your head on the roof. You can slouch a bit to avoid it, as there’s a fair amount of legroom, but it’s harder to get comfortable than it should be. The CLA is no better in this respect, though.

The A3 saloon is available to order from next month, with first deliveries in October. Full prices haven’t been revealed yet, but we were told to expect a premium of about £800 over the Sportback – so it’ll start at around £20,600.

Hatchback-loving UK buyers may not be won over by the A3 saloon, but the fact that it feels just as grown-up and refined as the A4, and for £4,000 less, may be enough to sway some – as long as they can deal with the slightly cramped back seats.

Disqus - noscript

It's all a matter of opinion, of course, but I agree with the review that this is the best looking A3.

There is no getting away from the fact, though, that a saloon is inherently limiting compared to a hatchback. The suggested £800 premium over the hatchback is also off-putting.

If you can live with that (for example if you have something like an MPV as a second car for practical chores) then this is an attractive choice. I strongly suspect that this will actually dent sales of the A4 saloon, at least in Europe.

I'm annoyed that I just bought a new car because this ticks all the boxes for me! It's stunning, efficient, has loads of road presence, and because it's an Audi, you know you will be treated right as a customer.

Yeah, right. The more expensive options you tick the more you'll will be treated right as a customer.

Lol... Do you actually believe that!!! Just because it's an Audi!!! Oh they'll show you the love as you negotiate the sale. Once you back there with a problem it's all down to how good the staff are in the service department. I know... I have an TTS. I was in there today about a couple of things. They have 3 people on the service desk. 2 would've called me back as agreed, the other doesn't fill me with confidence and sure enough no called back, hence me having to go there. At least he knew me on sight but I was still there because he didn't call. And the sales guy I did the deal with... He came over asked how I was, about the car... Still showing the love, because he wants my business again... Because of the after sales side, I'll probably go else where. Just because it's an Audi doesn't mean you'll be looked after!

Well I thought that might be the case when I only spent £17k on a new a1 in 2010 but the customer experience I received was second to none! Sure your point might be valid in some dealerships, but Coventry Audi and Hull Audi offer world class customer service, something I have NEVER found in any Mercedes dealership!

This is a medium priced car trying to look expensive. The MPG as proven elsewhere are not accurate ( nor can it be achieved in normal road driving) and its about time magazines gave us the figures that they get in use.

Of course it doesn't, but then again there are very few dealerships that actually offer a good customer service. However speaking from experience I have always found Audi to be a cut above the rest

£26.300 That's not far of an A4 2.0Tdi so why buy this ? & Who'd want to buy a 1.4 A3 Saloon for £20.600 ? I think it's overated.

You actually spent 17k on an Audi A1? Did you do that on purpose?

No I did it by accident?

Made only to compete with the CLA and 1 series ugly bug, wont do well here, but in China will sell bucket loads

Too many Audi models of all shapes and sizes that all look the same. Take the A5 sportback which looks like an A7, this A3 saloon that looks like an A4. The only thing missing is the A3 pickup truck....

My Toyota dealer is very good. Before and after buying. Only see them once a year because my Toyota doesn't go wrong!

Key specs

  • Price: £26,300 (est)
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
  • Power: 148bhp
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 8.7 seconds
  • Top speed: 134mph
  • Economy: 67.3mpg
  • CO2: 108g/km
  • Equipment: 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone air-con, cruise control, electric windows
  • On sale: July
AEX 1334
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