Audi A3 Saloon – Review

I believe that there is an Audi A3 for everyone. You have the 3-door Hatchback, the Sportback, the Convertible and then there is the Saloon. The A3 Saloon has been part of the A3 family since 2013 and, personally, I think it is one of the best looking cars on the market.

A Few Facts:
Model Tested: Audi A3 Saloon S-Line S-Tronic
Engine: 1.6TDI diesel – 110hp and 250Nm
Transmission: 7-Speed S-Tronic automatic, front-wheel drive.
Price: Prices for the A3 range start at €26,960. Price as tested – €42,351.

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Styling

The A3 Saloon doesn’t just look like an A4 that shrunk in the wash, it has its own unique face that sets it apart from its much bigger, older brother. Up front, the facelifted A3 has a angular lines, such as the grill and creases down the side. The rear end is muscular and handsome, unlike the Sportback which is quite droopy looking.

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I’m a sucker for red cars and the A3 in Tango Red is just right in so many ways. Standard on 18 inch alloys and with black leather/alcantara interior, this is one nice combo.

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Interior

Not a whole lot differs from the Saloon and the Sportback up front. The same leather and alcantara seats as seen in the Sportback are present in the Saloon. The seats are comfortable and easily adjustable to suit the driver perfectly. The cockpit is well laid out and everything is easy to use.

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The Virtual Cockpit was also shown off in my test car which is very cool. Check out my review of the Audi A4 for a more in depth look at it.

The Saloon is almost a centimetre and half longer than the Sportback but this accommodates for the longer boot. I found that space in the rear was quite cramped for someone of my size, 6 foot. The sloping roof didn’t help with head room and with the driver seat in my driving position, ample leg room was a problem too.

On The Road

The 7-Speed S-Tronic gearbox is a sweet spot for the Audi range, every Audi I’ve driven with it has been very smooth and easy to drive. Having gone from driving a Skoda Octavia RS with the 6-speed DSG to this S-Tronic was like night and day. The gear changes are seamless from the Audi, it feels as if you are gliding along rather than driving. It is a very smooth gearbox. Power delivery was very good too, not once did the engine feel sluggish given its relatively low power output of 110hp. However, I couldn’t help but think that if the car was equipped with a manual gearbox, it would be a whole different story, for the worse that is.

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As standard on the S-Line is Audi Drive Select. This allows the driver to select from different driving modes. Comfort or Efficiency are perfect for around the locality or town.  Stop/Start makes for a jerky start when in use around traffic though. Select Dynamic mode on a windy road and the car feels a lot more sporty. The steering becomes weightier, gear changes quicker and the throttle more willing. It lets you have fun with the 110hp and 250Nm.

For a 4 cylinder diesel, the engine sounds throaty, which I liked. It wasn’t enough to intrude the cabin but you could hear it in the background which added to the experience in Dynamic mode. Although, and I have no clue why, but my test car was optioned without the S-Line suspension, which comes as standard in S-Line trim. Even without the harsher suspension set-up, the ride could be quite stiff which was especially noticeable on a bad road surface.

Practicality/Boot Space

The reason why most customers would opt for the Saloon, other than the more handsome looks, would be for increased boot space. The Sportback‘s boot space equals 380l whereas the Saloon’s is 425l. Although with the rear seats folded in the latter, it is 880l compared to 1,220l in the former.

Equipment

As with most Audis, technology is their thing, but it does come at a price. My test car had MMI Navigation(€1,062) fitted. This system is good and easily customisable. But, not that anyone uses them, it does not recognise Eir codes. As standard is a retractable 5.8 inch colour display off of which the infotainment and settings work. When using the Sat Nav, the user can have their navigation on the Virtual Cockpit in front of them and have the radio options on the screen, for example.

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Also an option is Audi Connect. This allows the car to turn into a WiFi hotspot for up to 8 devices. Handy if you are up and down the country for meetings and need to send emails along the way. Although, I can’t see your passengers thanking you for dragging them around the country with that rear space, or lack there of. Maybe just pile the lads into the car and go cruisin’, you can Snapchat the whole thing…

Back to expensive options; an auto dimming rear view mirrior, €362. Anti-theft wheel bolts, €36. Interior light package, €238. Come on Audi, really?

Running Costs

The 1.6TDI unit emits just 98g/km of CO2 which means the car is €180 per year to tax.

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Throughout my week of motorway driving but primarily city/suburban driving, the A3 averaged 6.2l/100km. In the Sportback I averaged 7.1l/100km.

Pricing

Pricing for the A3 range starts at €26,960. The Saloon starts at €29,810. Price as tested is €42,351, including €3,551 worth of options. 

Competition

Mercedes-Benz CLA – Arguably prettier, the CLA is the most direct competitor for the A3 Saloon. With a starting price of €27,705 and a boot size of 470l, it is both cheaper and, technically, more spacious than the Audi.

Skoda Octavia Laurin & Klement – An odd choice but price-wise, the Octavia is a strong contender. Priced from €35,000 in this trim level, the L&K offers a very comfortable and spacious interior. Read my review of the Superb L&K to find out what the L&K package offers.

Volvo V40 – Although they are nothing alike looks-wise, the V40 is a very good car for the money. The V40 starts at €28,245 so is around the same as the A3. Also receiving a facelift in 2016, the V40 is just as fresh on Irish roads as the Audi is.

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Conclusion

Out of the A3 family, the Saloon is the one to have. Although, be prepared to have complaining passengers in the rear due to the lack of rear leg and head room. But just like the Sportback, equipped with the right option and the right engine, the Saloon is one hell of a car. Oh, and there is an RS3 Saloon on the way…