Audi A3 Saloon 2.0TDI19 | 09 | 2013Scotcars rating

    Audi sticks a boot on the A3 Sportback and reignites the battle of the modern saloons

    AUDI HAS LONG BEEN in the business of creating niche markets for its products to sit in, but now it's reverted to producing a car for one of the most established sectors in the business: the saloon car (watch our video of the new Audi A3 Saloon).

    Certainly over the last 10 years for so, the market for saloons in the UK has all but disappeared, swallowed up first by the rise of the hatchback, then sporty estate, and now the crossover.

    Now though, Audi has introduced a saloon version of its A3. Based on the A3 Sportback, it's has been subtly redesigned to give more presence on the road, and the car definitely carries its own identity. None of the saloon's body panels have been carried over from the Sportback.

    It's a good looking car, but you'd be excused for thinking it's nothing more than an updated A4. I posed that question to the Audi boys, and the response was: "The A3 saloon's 24cm shorter, and it clearly has its own personality."

    It's also 11mm wider, 9mm lower and 146mm longer than the five-door Sportback, with a 20mm wider track.

    Perhaps more significantly, in terms of load volume, the saloon is the most practical A3: its 425-litre capacity beats the Sportback five-door by 45 litres.

    Ok then. So it's a smaller A4. That fact is essentially confirmed by the fact the A3 saloon will do big in China, where junior executives can expect to get one as their first company car. A modern day Mondeo then?

    Related: Price increases at Audi

    There's the tried and tested range of powerplants available from launch: two petrols — the 138bhp 1.4TFSI and 1.8TFSI — plus a £25,755 148bhp 2.0TDI diesel. These will be joined in December by a 104bhp 1.6TDI, followed by a 181bhp 2.0TDI next spring.

    The clever £24,305, 1.4TFSI base engine comes with VW Group's cylinder-on-demand technology — previously experienced in the 1.2TSI Golf — which shuts down two cylinders under low engine loads to improve fuel economy.

    But clever as it may be, it's the 148bhp 2.0TDI which will take the bulk of the A3 saloon sales in the UK. In typical Audi tradition, it's solid, economical, fast and attractive.

    With a 0-62mph time of 8.4secs, it'll return 67.3mpg and emits just 109g/km CO2. Oh, and it'll hit 132mph.

    Across the range, drivers get the choice of the standard six-speed manual gearbox, or Audi's seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch auto. To be honest, if you can stump up the extra £1480 for the optional auto, it's the one I'd recommend: it's a delight, especially when operated by the slick paddleshift.

    Related: Diesel sports car concept from Audi

    Inside the cabin, it's an Audi: you don't really need to say any more than that. Beautifully built to last, and with the usual high quality surfaces to the 'touchy-feely' bits, it's a comfortable place to be.

    Just be aware though, across the range the 'standard' suspension fitting to the A3 saloon is the Sport suspension. If you want something rather softer, you can have it as a no-cost option.

    Me? I've always liked Audi's firm suspension, but I appreciate it's not to everyone's taste.

    Oh, and you can also get Audi’s Drive Select system, which allows the driver to alter throttle response and suspension set-ups. The usual options are available, including Dynamic, Economy and Comfort.

    There's also two trim levels, Sport and S-line, with the S-line costing an extra £2150. But you do get 18in alloys over the standard car's 17 wheels, as well as the usual S-line goodies, including body styling and Xenon headlights.

    There's no getting away from the fact the A3 Saloon is expensive (and my test car came with an extra 12 grand's worth of goodies): but it is an excellent piece of kit. Is it worth the money?

    Well, you could have a Skoda Rapid from the same VW Group stable. But if having the right badge is important to you, then I've no doubt you'll be making your way to your nearest Scottish Audi showroom.

    Related: Audi reveals 690bhp hybrid quattro

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    Jim McGill

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £23,630
    Engine / Power: 1968cc turbodiesel 6-speed manual /147bhp
    How fast?: max 132mph / 0-62mph 8.4secs
    How big/heavy?: L4456mm W1796mm (excl mirrors) H1416mm / Weight 1250kgs
    How thirsty/CO2?: 67.3mpg combined / 107g/km
    InsGP/Road tax: N/a N/a
    Alternatives: VW Golf, Audi A4

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