Audi A3 S line review
Want to buy an Audi A3 with added sporting appeal, but don't want a hot S3 or RS 3? Then you need to try the Audi A3 S line...
The A3 is a quality product, and S line trim adds a sporty edge to the mix without harming running costs too badly. It's not be as sharp to drive as a BMW 1 Series, but it appeals massively for its more relaxed driving manners, its refinement and hi-tech gadgets. Even the pricing looks keen.
The Audi A3 S line is the model in the range to go for if you want the sporty looks of the Audi S3 or RS3, but don't want the high running costs that come with these high-performance models. That's because S line trim features a sportier look than other versions of the A3, but still keeps the same range of efficient petrol and diesel engines.
S line models are easily identified from other A3s on sale by their standard-fit 18-inch alloy wheels, a more aggressive bumper design, extended side sills, a rear spoiler and an updated interior. This adds front sports seats with a part-leather finish and extra kit on board. Also included on A3 S line models are distinctive LED headlights and tail-lamps with strobing indicators added at the back.
You can get S line models in every A3 body style. The three-door A3 was dropped in 2018 due to low sales numbers, but you can still buy the S line in five-door A3 Sportback, four-door A3 Saloon and two-door A3 Cabriolet forms.
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The full range of Audi TFSI petrol and TDI diesel engines are available in A3 S line trim, including some larger engines that aren't available in Sport or SE models. Petrol power comes from the 114bhp 1.0 TFSI 116PS, 148bhp 1.5 TFSI 150PS and 187bhp 2.0 TFSI 190PS. Go for a diesel, and you have the choice of Audi's 114bhp 1.6 TDI 116PS, or the 2.0 TDI 150PS and 184PS with 148bhp and 182bhp respectively. All models are front-wheel drive except for the 2.0 TDI 184PS, which has quattro four-wheel drive as standard. You can also add quattro to the 2.0 TFSI 190PS petrol engine.
A six-speed manual gearbox is standard across the range with the option of Audi's seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch auto on all engines. Again, the 2.0 TDI 184PS comes with the seven-speed S tronic auto as standard.
Prices start at around £25,000 for the 1.0 TFSI S line Sportback, while the most expensive version is the 2.0 TDI 184PS quattro S tronic, weighing in at over £33,000. Saloon and Cabriolet models carry a price premium over this, too, while Audi still offers a wide range of options to take the price even higher.
It's worth noting that the larger wheels and tyres that are standard on the A3 S line do harm fuel economy and emissions slightly. This won't be an issue for private buyers looking to buy a new car, but company car users may have larger bills to contend with.
On the road, the S line models are marked out by their firm ride on the standard-fit sports suspension. This has been lowered by 25mm to give a sportier drive and a meaner look to the car. If you're specifying a new A3, then we'd recommend replacing it with the comfort suspension that Audi offers at no extra cost, or upgrading to adaptive dampers where they're available.
Overall the A3 S line corners confidently, but 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 S line because of its standard-fit 18-inch alloy wheels.
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 offers a good mix of performance and economy, while higher-powered units are slightly more compromised - the 2.0 TDI has great power and economy figures, but at the expense of refinement.