Audi A3 Saloon S line 1.4 TFSI: long-term test review

24 Jun, 2014 1:00pm Stuart Milne

We can’t wait to see how the Audi A3 saloon, or junior Audi A4, measures up

Verdict

4

Audi A3 or A4? The choice for Audi buyers used to be straightforward: if you wanted a handsome three-box saloon, go for the A4. 

For something smaller, the A3 was the car of choice. Now that job has become harder thanks to the introduction of the A3 Saloon. It’s a little narrower and a lot shorter than the A4, which makes it easier to use in crowded towns, but not so small that motorway trips are a chore.

Fair-weather Audi fans could probably identify it in isolation, but this particular model requires a second glance at the badge on the back. That’s no bad thing: the A4 is, to my eyes, one of the best-looking cars in its class, and that’s the case with my A3 Saloon, too.

Audi A3 Saloon interior

The baby saloon will be pressed into service as family transport, so I’m keen to see if I’ve sacrificed practicality in the pursuit of style. At 425 litres, the Saloon’s boot is 45 litres larger than that in the A3 Sportback, but a narrower opening could cause problems.

The car offers serious driveway appeal, especially in S line trim, with its beefier bumpers, side skirts and18-inch alloys. The cabin features the S line badging, flat-bottomed steering wheel and part-leather seats that are now de rigeur for a sporting Audi.

Even so, it’s not hard to boost the car’s £26,445 price significantly, as our £5,695 options bill proves. Highlights here are LED headlights (£795) and an excellent Bang & Olufsen audio upgrade (£750).

Audi A3 Saloon rear

The £1,795 technology package delivers a sat-nav that glides out of a slot in the dash and MMI Touch, which lets you trace letters with your finger to operate various nav and telephone functions. The former adds a sense of occasion, but I wonder how often I’ll use the latter.

The 148bhp, 1.4-litre TFSI engine uses a cylinder-on-demand system to shut off half of the four cylinders on light throttle loads and restarts them seamlessly when needed. 

And a coasting feature decouples the transmission when the throttle is closed, allowing the engine to idle when not required. Whether those features translate to a saving at the pumps remains to be seen. But life with the A3 has started positively.

Key specs

  • On fleet since: May 2014
  • Price new: £26,445
  • Options: LED headlights (£795), interior lighting (£170), technology package (£1,795), electric front seats (£550), heated front seats (£260), Advanced key (£425)
  • Options (continued): electric, folding and heated door mirrors (£150), electric lumbar support (£195), Comfort package (£605), Bang & Olufsen sound system (£750)
  • CO2/tax: 109g/km/£20
  • Engine: 1.4-litre 4cyl, 148bhp
  • Insurance group/quote: Group: 21 Quote: £329
  • Mileage/mpg: 863/37.9mpg
  • Any problems?: None so far
AEX 1330
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