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In-depth reviews

Audi A3 Saloon review

The Audi A3 Saloon is an excellent-handling and great-looking alternative to the Mercedes CLA

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

  • Stylish looks, efficient engines, excellent refinement
  • Firm ride, tight rear headroom, not as involving as its rivals

The latest Audi A3 has a lot to recommend it and, to our eyes at least, the saloon version brings a dose of extra style to the line-up.

With its traditional 'four doors and a boot' design, the Audi may lack the extrovert looks of the Mercedes CLA, but it makes up for that with a genuinely upmarket feel - especially if you can afford the LED headlamps and the S Line trim.

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It's not a cheap car when compared with VW Group stablemates such as the VW Golf or Skoda Octavia but the well-equipped, comfortable and beautifully built interior adds to a sense of premium motoring, so you shouldn't feel shortchanged.

There's a great range of petrol and diesel options, plus the addede attraction of quattro four-wheel-drive and Audi's S tronic dual-clutch gearbox. The downsides are limited headroom in the back, and a boot that's well-proportioned but not as versatile as the A3 Sportback.

The Audi A3 Saloon is part of the increasingly extended A3 family – its sister-models are the three-door hatch and five-door Sportback. This four-door version also forms the basis for the more recent A3 cabriolet.

This model was launched in 2013, the first time a saloon has been offered as part of the A3 range. It owes its existence to the fact that markets such as China and the US prefer the four-door format over hatchbacks. Of course, Audi reckons it can sell a few here in the UK too.

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Audi A3 Saloon long-term test review

The Audi A3 Saloon uses the same platform as the Sportback, so it has slightly more rear legroom than the three-door hatch. It also offers 45 litres more boot space than the Sportback.

It’s definitely not a ‘taxi special’ - Audi is pitching the A3 Saloon as a premium model in the line-up, so it’s available only in high-spec Sport Navigation and S line Navigation trims. It also carries a hefty price premium of around £1,500 over the three-door.

As you would expect, the A3 Saloon borrows its engines from the rest of the line-up, kicking off with a 1.4-litre petrol TFSI engine, which features cylinder deactivation technology (CoD). Also available is a 1.8 TFSI petrol engine, plus 1.6 and 2.0 TDI diesels.

In addition to the previously available Audi S3 hot hatch, there is also a 296bhp Audi S3 saloon.

You have to look quite hard for direct rivals to the A3 saloon. Mercedes makes a saloon version of the A-Class called the CLA but that has swoopy coupe-inspired styling whereas the A3 – while sleek – looks more like a traditional four-door. The Skoda Octavia shares the Audi’s platform but not its premium/executive badge, leaving buyers looking up to rivals such as the larger and more expensive BMW 3 Series saloon for alternative choices.

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