Audi A3 Saloon Review 2024
Audi A3 Saloon At A Glance
The Audi A3 Saloon occupies a relatively niche position, given the UK’s obsession with hatchbacks and SUVs. It means this compact saloon will remain a rare choice, as most buyers go for the Audi A3 Sportback hatchback instead. However, the Audi A3 Saloon offers good value, with the dynamic ability and premium badge to challenge the Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon and BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe.
This is Audi’s smallest saloon car, combining compact dimensions with the traditional styling of a four-door. Buyers may flock to Audi’s Sportback models, but doing so ignores the handsome styling and impressive driving manners of the A3 Saloon.
Compared to the Audi A3 Sportback, the Audi A3 Saloon is 150mm longer. This places it squarely in competition with the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe and Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon. It sits beneath the larger Audi A4 Saloon in the German company’s extensive range.
Opting for the Audi A3 Saloon over the Sportback does mean a degree of compromise on practicality – necessary to allow its svelte styling. Although overall luggage capacity is actually larger than the Audi A3 Sportback, a smaller boot opening means the Saloon is less useful, particularly when it comes to carrying bulky items. Rear headroom is also reduced, thanks to the sloping roof line of the Saloon model.
In terms of the driving experience, Audi has created a genuinely engaging compact car. The steering delivers just enough feel and precision to make it interesting to drive, while strong body control keeps the A3 stable when cornering. Cars in S line or Black Edition spec gain lowered sports suspension with stiffer dampers. These make the ride feel firmer, especially on Black Edition cars with their 19-inch alloy wheels, but never to the point of being intolerable.
Since the Audi A3 Saloon was launched, Audi has rationalised the engine range down to just two petrols and one diesel. All of these are impressive in their fuel-efficiency, and will make the Audi A3 Saloon an affordable option for private drivers or fleet users alike.
Both the 1.0- and 1.5-litre petrol engines can achieve more than 50mpg, while the 2.0-litre diesel can top 60mpg. The latter is also the fastest Audi A3 Saloon, with 150PS and ample mid-range torque helping it accelerate from 0-62mph in 8.3 seconds. For those doing a larger monthly mileage, the diesel will make lots of sense.
All versions of the Audi A3 Saloon come with front-wheel drive – i.e. there’s no option of Quattro all-wheel drive. The two petrol engines are offered with a six-speed manual transmission, or the option of a seven-speed S tronic automatic gearbox. The diesel is auto-only.
For those who want more performance, the Audi S3 Saloon (reviewed separately) offers 310PS and Quattro all-wheel drive as standard. This makes for rapid progress, although it will be much more expensive to run than a regular Audi A3 Saloon. There’s also the full-fat Audi RS3, with a 400hp five-cylinder engine for serious speed and a great soundtrack.
Choosing the regular Audi A3 Saloon requires only a small premium over the equivalent Sportback version. There is also a high level of standard specification across the range, with even the entry-level Sport trim well equipped.
Features such as dual-zone climate control, LED headlights and sports seats are found on all versions. There is also a 10.1-inch multimedia touchscreen, a 10.25-inch Virtual Cockpit instrument panel and satellite navigation.
Although most buyers will still choose the Sportback, the Audi A3 Saloon is an appealing option for those who prefer the look of a traditional four-door car.