Audi A3 Saloon Review
The Audi A3 Saloon is a classy, high tech four-door that is also great to drive. Audi’s A3 Sportback is the more practical choice, though.
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The Audi A3 Saloon is a sleeker-looking version of the Audi A3 Sportback hatchback, getting a shallower boot and lower rear roofline. If you like the way it looks and its premium cabin, you’ll also like the Mercedes CLA and BMW 2 Series.
Buying these cars is a bit like living in a treehouse: it looks cooler, but a three-bed semi is more practical. Nevertheless, the A3 Saloon comes with the sportiest Audi interior you’ll see this side of the R8 supercar. It looks absolutely fantastic thanks to its sweeping horizontal lines, wraparound design and hexagonal air vents that look like they’ve been pinched off an unsuspecting Lamborghini.
Sure, the materials don’t quite feel supercar-posh in places, but overall the A3 is a pretty premium place to sit.
It’s especially up-market if you go for a high-spec model with the larger widescreen digital driver’s display and built-in sat-nav. Thankfully, it’s all dead easy to use and even entry-level cars get a cool 10-inch touchscreen and all the smartphone mirroring features you could want as standard.
It isn’t just more tech that sets the new A3 apart from the old car – it feels sportier to sit in too. You sit lower than before and the sports seats you get in S Line models come with plenty of support and some lovely Alcantara trim.
As with the A3 Sportback, space in the back isn’t quite so good – tall adults might find their heads touching the roof, but at least there’s plenty of knee room. The dark headlining you get in S Line models can make it feel a bit dark and dingy back there, but there’s always the option of a panoramic glass roof if you want to let a little more light in.
The Saloon’s boot is less practical than the Sportback’s, though. OK, so it’s actually slightly bigger on paper, but its shallower shape and more restricted access mean it’s actually less useful if you regularly load up the boot.
The A3 Saloon has its own distinctive look that many will prefer, but if you're often filling the boot then the Sportback model will be the one of you.
You can have your Audi A3 Saloon with a range of engines, including a 1.0-litre petrol with 110hp and a 1.5-litre petrol with 150hp. There’s also get a 1.4-litre plug-in hybrid model that’s both faster and more efficient than the standard petrol models – although it’s quite a bit more expensive, too.
If you do lots of long drives, you’ll want to consider a diesel engine instead. There are two to choose from; a 2.0-litre 115hp engine and a 2.0-litre 150hp model that’ll make a great motorway cruiser.
If you want even more sportiness, you can opt for an S3 model. It comes with a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine that produces more than 330hp. It feels stronger than the old car yet it’s every bit as smooth and comes complete with a characterful exhaust note.
Generally, the A3 is quiet and comfortable to drive, though S Line cars have a lower suspension set-up than the rest of the range – to make them feel more sporty – so these will feel firmer over potholes and rough roads. Also, versions with 150hp and up get a more advanced rear suspension set up which should make them better over bumps than the lower-powered cars.
Ultimately, A BMW 2 Series is sportiest posh hatchback to drive, but the A3 isn’t that far behind should you want to have fun down a twisty road.
The A3 Saloon also gets speed-sensitive steering, so at slow speeds, the steering feels light making it easy to manoeuvre around town. And as you drive faster the steering gets heavier so it doesn’t feel twitchy at higher speeds.
So, the A3 Saloon is great to drive, high-quality inside and comes stacked with the latest tech. Just be aware that a 2 Series is even more agile and Audi’s own A3 Sportback is a more practical choice. If that’s all good, then check out our A3 Saloon deals.
The A3 Saloon’s interior looks great and the very best tech Audi has to offer, but if you look hard enough though, some of the materials feel a bit cheap.