High-quality interior finish
Not particularly cheap
Rear and boot space better in similarly priced alternatives
As the dark horse of the Audi range, the A3 Saloon is a breath of fresh air if you’re in the market for a new car in the premium executive range. Although the cabin might be a touch lifeless, the sheer quality of the interior finish and the tranquil driving experience should be more than enough to sway your vote. If size matters, the A3 Saloon may be trumped by more spacious, similarly priced alternatives like the Mercedes A-Class or the BMW 1 Series.
In terms of efficiency, the entry-level 1.6L diesel is the most effective engine in the range as it returns fuel economy of around 74 mpg. If protecting the planet is high up on the agenda, the 1.4L petrol engine emits a respectable 109g/km of CO2.
Practicality wise, the Saloon is winning the race in the A3 class. The A3 Saloon provides much more legroom in the rear seats as well as having a bigger boot (425 litres seats up) than its siblings, the A3 Sportback and A3 Cabriolet. There's also plenty of headroom to get those long journey neck exercises in.
The Audi A3 Saloon comes with a slick 7.0" colour touchscreen, user-friendly sat-nav system, Bluetooth interface and a crisp sound system as standard. Paying an extra £450 gets you Audi's Virtual Cockpit system which we highly recommend if you want the complete Audi experience.
Starting from the bottom, the Sport is equipped with 17” ‘5-arm’ design alloy wheels that certainly add a pleasing visual to the exterior of A3 Saloon. The Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights are another subtle touch of class to an already polished car.
Upgrade to the best-selling S Line trim and you’ll add a number of mouthwatering features, in addition to those available with the Sport level trim.
The front sport seats, sports suspension and flat-bottomed 3-spoke leather multi-function Sport steering wheel will ensure that those morning commutes become a whole lot more enjoyable.
You’ll also be treating yourself to 18” ‘parallel-spoke’ partly-polished wheels and an S Line exterior styling pack that’ll have you drooling at the mouth.
Opt for the cream of the crop Black Edition and you’ll seldom be disappointed.
In addition to the S Line, the Black Edition trim includes 18” ‘5-arm trapezoid’ design Audi Sport alloy wheels that are sure to leave fellow drivers in a daze. The black styling pack offers meticulously crafted black highlights to the exterior, including the radiator grille, window trims and rear diffuser insert.
The privacy glass creates an enigmatic and luring vibe, whereas Audi’s very own sound system is undoubtedly going to be a crowd-pleaser for you and your passengers.
Rivalling both the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and the BMW 1 series in terms of style and appeal, the Audi A3 Saloon just about keeps its elitist title thanks to its elegant shape and glossy exterior finish.
You wouldn’t be the first to mistake the A3 Saloon with it’s older A3 Sportback sibling, although a side-on inspection of the Saloon gives you the impression that Audi are targeting a more upmarket, business-orientated segment, perfect for hard-working commuters. Audi is working the ‘Compact Premium Executive’ angle with the A3 Saloon, aimed at buyers who are looking for a smaller-than-most saloon. It's one of the best compact saloons on the market.
The A3 comes with a choice of 2 solid finishes (black and white) at no extra cost and 7 metallic paint finishes if you are willing to fork out an extra £575. The Cosmos blue and Monsoon grey are rather dashing if you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary.
With a premium manufacturer, you’re obviously looking for a premium driving experience. So how does the A3 square up?
For the petrolheads out there, the entry-level 114bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine (30 TFSI) will feel a little out its depth if you’re constantly up and down the motorway, but it’s a different animal gliding around town.
Our pick of the bunch is the punchy 148bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged (35 TFSI) engine. Although it has a tendency to guzzle fuel, the 1.4-litre engine combines fluid performance with quiet operation to provide one of the more enjoyable driving experiences out there. The alpha of the group belongs to the 187 bhp 2.0-litre (40 TFSI) engine that certainly packs a punch despite its high running costs.
The alternative diesel engines are available in 3 different outputs - the most economically friendly 114bhp 1.6-litre (30 TDI) that shows power and grace in any situation it finds itself in. You also have the choice of 2 x 2.0-litre engines - the 148 bhp (35 TDI) and 187 bhp (40 TDI) that are both available in quattro four-wheel drive if you fancy using the Saloon for a more rugged trip than your usual 9-5 routine.
The 1.4-litre TFSI petrol engine is capable of going 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds and reaches an impressive top speed of 139mph. For the Dominic Toretto’s of the world, the 2.0-litre petrol engine completes 0-62mph in just 6.9 seconds and reaches a top speed of 155mph. The 1.6-litre diesel engine takes just over 10 seconds to do 0-62mph, whereas the 2.0-litre 184bhp powerhouse does 0-62mph in just 6.8 seconds with the helping hand of Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system and seven-speed S Tronic gearbox.
With ample steering wheel and seat adjustment capabilities, you'll be happy as Larry behind the wheel of the Audi A3 Saloon.
Opt for the Sport or S Line editions and you'll receive the more supportive seats with puffy side bolsters that hold you in position and ensure you're sitting with a good posture.
The only disappointment is that you'll have to pay extra for adjustable lumbar support across the range.
One of the A3 Saloon’s main selling points is its ability to glide through journeys at any speed. Regardless of trim, the A3 Saloon’s steering will be precise and accurate thanks to Audi’s electric power steering system.
Audi also offers three different driving modes - Dynamic, Economy and Comfort. Each mode brings a different throttle response and power steering weight to let you unleash the true potential of the A3 Saloon.
The standard Dynamic suspension that comes fitted on all trims for no extra cost is the trick to getting the most comfort. The trendier, yet stiffer, Sport suspension has been described as rigid and inflexible in comparison.