Audi A3 Saloon review - Practicality, comfort and boot space
The A3 Saloon's convincing big car pretensions are only hampered by its compact dimensions
The driver and front-seat passenger are very well looked after in the A3 Saloon, as the front row accommodation mirrors that in the rest of the range. That means a very good range of adjustment for driving seat and steering wheel, and comfortable seating with a good view of the important controls and the road ahead.
The interior quality is excellent, which adds to the comfortable ambience, and if you’re feeling lavish you can splash out on luxuries such as quilted leather seats that add to the premium feel.
On a more practical level, while visibility out of the back isn’t brilliant, it’s noticeably better than the Mercedes CLA saloon with its coupe-like hind-quarters.
Cabin storage is decent too, with a good-sized glovebox, cupholders and storage under the flip-up armrest.
At 4,460mm the A3 Saloon is noticeably longer than its five-door A3 Sportback stablemate, which is only 4,310mm. However, the Audi saloon is also noticeably shorter than the 4,630mm Mercedes CLA and the 4,624mm BMW 3 Series saloon.
The 1,796mm Audi and the Merc are equally wide between the mirrors, but the BMW is a little wider at 1,811mm. Surprisingly perhaps, the 1,416mm tall A3 Saloon is a couple of cms lower than the CLA, while the 3 Series splits the difference.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
It’s easy to forget the A3 Saloon is not a big family car, but that said its small-ish back doors aren’t really an issue. However, a low roofline does mean that you might bang your head when getting in and out.
Although it’s a full five-seater, passenger space in the back is tight. There’s only just enough legroom for adults – but certainly more than in the three-door hatch. You’ll squeeze three abreast on the back seat too if necessary, but three adults won’t want to stay there for long journeys.
The Audi does offer two air vents and a 12V socket in the back to help passengers feel looked after, though. The latter will be particularly useful if you have kids who want to power their Wi-Fi-enabled gadgets.
The Audi A3 Saloon gets an ample 425-litre boot and its flat sides create a square load area that’s extremely useable. In comparison, the A3 Sportback's boot offers a less generous 380 litres, while the more expensive BMW 3-Series saloon offers a giant 480 litres.
The back seats fold flat to accommodate larger items, but they leave a distinct step in the floor and can only be dropped from inside the passenger compartment, which makes using them a bit more hassle than it might otherwise be.
There’s also an optional Through-Load set-up, which comprises a drop-down centre armrest with cupholders and a storage compartment.
A well-thought-out towing hitch is a £625 option. The ball is removable, while the 12-pin socket swivels out of sight behind the bumper skirt.
In this review
- 1VerdictThe Audi A3 Saloon is an excellent-handling and great-looking alternative to the Mercedes CLA
- 2Engines, performance and driveGreat engines and neat handling, but make sure you tick the options box for 'comfort' suspension
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsEfficient engines and decent depreciation rates make the A3 Saloon a sound economic performer
- 4Interior, design and technologyThere are few surprises inside or out, but the A3 Saloon still boasts a premium, high-quality feel
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot space - currently readingThe A3 Saloon's convincing big car pretensions are only hampered by its compact dimensions
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe A3 gets good reliability feedback from owners, and Euro NCAP gave a glowing five star safety score