New 2020 Audi A3 Saloon arrives to take on BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe

The new four-door Audi A3 Saloon joins the Sportback in the A3 line-up

Audi has expanded the new A3 line-up with the introduction of this: the new A3 Saloon. It’s a compact saloon car based on the firm’s popular family hatchback and chief Volkswagen Golf rival, and it’s here to take on the latest Mercedes A-Class Saloon and the new BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe.

Saloon versions of the A3 were introduced during the lifespan of the previous-generation Mk3 A3 model, forming what was an enormous line-up of three and five-door hatchback models, the saloon, and the A3 Cabriolet. This time round, Audi is planning a smaller A3 family. Three-door hatchback and convertible versions will not appear, though a new fastback based on this Saloon could follow, to rival the Mercedes CLA, and hot RS 3 versions of the Sportback and Saloon are expected.

Using the Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform, the new A3 Saloon is available with Audi’s latest 48-volt mild hybrid drive technology, while the latest driver assistance, connectivity and infotainment features introduced on the latest A3 Sportback are present in this new saloon bodied version. 

It grows in length by 40mm, to 4,500mm overall, while it’s marginally wider and taller too, by 20mm and 10mm respectively. The wheelbase remains as it was, however, so while Audi claims there’s a smidgen more headroom and shoulder room, legroom should be unchanged. The boot size sticks at 425-litres with the rear seats in place too, which is slightly more than the 380-litres in the A3 Sportback, but in a different shape.

The front end of the A3 Saloon is lifted clean from the A3 Sportback, with the new car’s larger octagonal, honeycomb pattern grille and arrow-head shaped headlights, available with Matrix LED technology on range-topping versions. The car retains the hatchback’s distinctive cuts and flares down the flanks, but the body line flowing along the bottom of the doors doesn’t sweep up as much, to emphasise the longer body. Around the back, the new A3’s signature taillights and bootlid are repackaged into a pert, saloon rear end with a small lip spoiler.

It’s a more aerodynamically efficient shape than before, while Audi also claims that the electrically adjustable louvres behind the grille and mirror designs  contribute to the new, slippery body.

Get inside the A3 Saloon, and the driver and front passenger are greeted with a dashboard identical to that of the Sportback. A large cubby space sits ahead of the gear selector, above which is a 10.1-inch central touchscreen display angled in towards the driver. Audi’s 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit display sits behind the new steering wheel, flanked by two air vents. However, a smaller 10.25-inch digital instrument panel will be standard. 

The central touchscreen includes the new features introduced on the A3 Sportback, including handwriting detection, allowing users to naturally write instructions and directions straight onto the screen with a finger. Audi claims that the computer supporting the new touchscreen is ten times more powerful than its predecessor, enabling internet Wi-Fi hotspots for those on-board and new live services, including real-time traffic data, news, opening times for restaurants and the like. Up to six drivers can store a profile on the car, saving unique settings for the seating position (if electric seats are equipped), climate control and radio station. 

If desired, owners can skip past Audi’s own interface via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto integration. Android smartphone users can even use their devices as a key.

Audi has confirmed two petrol versions of the A3 Saloon and a diesel option from launch. The 35 TFSI petrol model uses a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged unit developing 148bhp, available with a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed S tronic automatic. The automatic equipped version of this engine features 48-volt mild hybrid technology, supporting the engine with an additional 50Nm of electrical energy to reduce engine load and with it, tailpipe emissions. Energy is recovered during deceleration and is stored in a small battery beneath the front passenger seat. The system enables the engine to completely shut down while the car is coasting at speed, too. 

As for the diesel, it is a 2.0-litre TDI engine developing 148bhp, using a seven-speed automatic gearbox by default. Audi claims it’s capable of up to 78.4mpg with CO2 emissions as low as 96g/km depending on spec. 

More engines will follow. Audi has confirmed that not long after launch another 2.0-litre TDI model with 113bhp and a six-speed manual gearbox will arrive, as will a three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engine developing 108bhp. This engine will be offered with both a six-speed manual gearbox and a seven-speed S tronic automatic with mild hybrid assistance. Audi has not yet revealed any RS versions of this latest A3, but both the A3 Sportback and Saloon are expected to form the basis of new RS 3 models, both using 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder power delivering in excess of 400bhp. And an S3 Saloon is a possibility too, using a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine developing 306bhp.

The UK line-up will consist of Sport, S-Line, Edition 1 and Vorsprung trim level cars. Base Sport models will come with the 10.1-inch central touchscreen and a 10.25-inch digital instrument panel, navigation, dual-zone air conditioning, 17-inch alloy wheels and dual-leather upholstery, while the S-Line model builds on this with a bodykit, 18-inch wheels, sports seats and LED tail lights. 

Edition 1 models step up with 19-inch wheels, matrix LED headlights, and electrically adjustable and heated front sports seats upholstered in Alcantara and leather. The range topping Vorsprung model features Nappa leather upholstery, a panoramic glass roof, a wireless charging box for smartphones and a Bang & Olufsen surround sound system.

This model also builds on the level of standard driver assistance equipment too. While every other model is equipped with Audi pre-sense front collision mitigation assistance, and lane departure warning, the Vorpsprung adds virtually every other option, including a head-up display, parking assistance, traffic sign recognition and adaptive cruise control. 

The new A3 Saloon goes on sale in the UK at the end of April, with prices for the full line-up yet to be confirmed. However, from launch, the cheapest version will be the 35 TFSI Sport, priced from £26,870, rising to £32,220 for the 35 TDI S Line S tronic.

Do you like the look of the new Audi A3 Saloon? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below...

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