Audi A3 Saloon Review

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Audi A3 Saloon Quick Review

7.6
This is the score given by Car & Driving
  • 8 Insurance
  • 8 Depreciation
  • 8 Economy
  • 8 Equipment
  • 8 Build
  • 8 Styling
  • 8 Space
  • 7 Value
  • 7 Comfort
  • 7 Handling
  • 7 Performance

Short Review

The Audi A3 Saloon might look like a shrunken A4, but it offers some of the very best efficiency measures in its class and brings a cool elegance within the reach of those who might find an A4 a bit of a stretch. This rejuvenated version gets a more advanced 2.0-litre petrol engine, plus innovations like the Audi Smartphone interface and the clever 'Virtual Cockpit' instrument layout. All of this embellishing a classy, stylish and pretty practical basic package.

Audi A3 Saloon LeaseFetcher Review

Over the past few years, more and more motorists have ditched their saloons for less stuffy bodystyles like hatchbacks and crossovers. But some manufacturers — luxury marquees like Audi, BMW and Mercedes — are still building outstanding saloons like the Audi A3 and Mercedes CLA.

And while they might not be as cool as they once were, saloons are still a great option for for motorists who want a mix of space, comfort and performance.

The Audi A3 Saloon — somewhat surprisingly — based on the stock Audi A3 Sportback. To transform it from sportback to saloon, they inflated the boot and toned down the design. As always, you lose a little practicality because of the smaller boot opening, but nevertheless, the A3 Saloon is a great lease for those who want premium driving experience, lot of space and high quality interior.

Styling

The A3 Saloon may be based on the Sportback, but it shares almost none of the bodywork with its smaller brother. It is still easily recognizable as an Audi, but it has a more toned down and sophisticated look compared to the stock A3. Having said that, the side lines are still muscular enough to give it a sporty appearance and with bigger wheels it really does look the business!

Interior

The interior is exactly the same as in the A3 Sportback, which is definitely not a bad thing. The quality of the materials is very high with a lot of soft-touch plastics used throughout. The fit and finish is impeccable (as it is with every Audi) and everything feels really solid to use.

You can add the Audi Virtual Cockpit to the mix, which replaces the traditional instruments in front of the driver with big 12.3-inch TFT screen. It makes a lot of sense as it can show information like the sat-nav or your music playlist together with the driving information, which reduces the need to look over at the centre screen.

Even though the A3 Saloon has a lot of technology on the inside, everything is well laid out and the menus are very easy to use, thanks to the MMI rotary controller, which sits near the gearshift. The infotainment system also supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which is great news, as you can use apps from your smartphone.

Driving

When you think of Audi, you never really think of exhilarating driving experiences. Well, with the exception of the R8, I suppose. And while the A3 Saloon isn’t exactly a track car, it does remarkably well with tidy handling and it grips the road very well. This is definitely a consequence of the firmer suspension Audi’s engineers have opted for. Despite the stiffer ride, comfort is still good – the A3 Saloon is firm, but not uncomfortable, dealing with smaller and bigger bumps nicely.

The S-Line models have much bumpier ride though, so be sure to spend the extra on the amazing Audi Magnetic Ride adaptive suspension, which makes the car much more comfortable.

Whichever trim you choose, the A3 Saloon is a very quiet car. The engines are very refined and hushed, and rarely heard in the cabin. Road and wind noise are both reduced to a dull murmur with some excellent insulation. You can blast along at motorway speeds and still have a pleasant conversation with a passenger without ever raising your voice. This is a premium driving experience throughout.

As is always the case with Audis, the A3 Saloon comes with a lot of available engines, all with turbochargers. All of them provide adequate performance, with great flexibility thanks to the turbocharging.

For best blend of performance and economy, I recommend you go with the the 2.0-litre TDI or the 1.4-litre TSI petrol turbo if you’re a fan of planting your foot on the floor.

Practicality

Inside the cabin, the A3 Saloon has almost exactly the same dimensions as the A3 Sportback so the front and back seats are both fairly roomy. The rear seats are easily more comfortable than those in competing cars like the Mercedes CLA. However, compared to the A3 Sportback, you lose a bit of headroom but it’s nothing you can’t live with.

Oh, another small thing. If you’ve got three passengers in the rear, the middle occupant will struggle for space though because there’s a big central tunnel.

The A3 Saloon scores highly on boot space as well — it has 425 litres, which is 60 litres more than the Sportback, but still less than the 470-litre one in the CLA. Anyway, I think it’s easily big enough for a small family, swallowing everything that is thrown at it. Also watch out with the Quattro models as you lose about 80 litres of space to the four-wheel-drive system.

Unfortunately, the opening of the boot is much smaller than the one on the hatchback, so you’ll struggle to fit bulkier items like furniture.

The engines in the A3 Saloon are very economical, probably the in the executive saloon class. The 2.0-litre TDI is great example of that, as it reaches 55 mpg without losing too much performance performance. The 1.4-litre TSI also gets around 45 mpg.

Basically, you won’t be disappointed with any engine here.

Specification

The A3 Saloon comes in three trim levels. The entry-level Sport has all the basics you’d expect and a few more on top like 17-inch alloys, an 5.8-inch screen, Bluetooth, DAB radio, voice control, sport seats in Rallye cloth, dual zone climate control and aluminium trim inside.

I recommend you think about picking up the Comfort suspension on any trim, as the standard ride is quite low, stiff and sporty.

The middle S-Line trim adds bigger 18-inch wheels, S-Line detailing, Xenon lights, flat bottom steering wheel, a revised interior and satnav.

Finally, the most expensive Black Edition trim upgrades the sound system with subwoofer and installs a much more elegant design than the sportier versions. Be careful with additional equipment though as it’s on the expensive side.

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