The remarkable quality, efficiency and technological ingenuity at the heart of the Audi A3 can now be wrapped in a choice of three beautifully proportioned bodies following the introduction this week of the A3 Saloon to the UK model range. Priced from £24,275 OTR, the first ever ‘three-box‘ A3 complements the familiar three-door and five-door Sportback models, and spearheads the Vorsprung durch Technik brand’s first foray into the world’s largest market segment – the compact saloon class.
Short overhangs and sharply sculpted lines give the new A3 Saloon a distinctly purposeful stance, and this is reinforced by its two-tier specification. A choice of either Sport or S line trim levels will be available in the UK, and at launch will be offered in conjunction with a total of three engines – two petrol units and one TDI.
Longer than the five-door A3 Sportback by just over 14 centimetres, wider by 11 millimetres and nine millimetres lower, the new compact four-door offers similarly ample passenger accommodation, complemented by 425 litres of luggage space with the rear seats in place – 45 litres more than its five-door counterpart.
Sport and S line versions sit low on their respective 17-inch and 18-inch alloy wheels thanks to sports suspension, but both can also be specified at no extra cost with more comfort-oriented standard suspension.
They also share features including sports seats, the Audi drive select adaptive dynamics system, dual-zone climate control, the MMI radio incorporating an 11 millimetre-thick powered folding screen and DAB digital radio, preparation for SD card navigation, Audi Music Interface iPod connection, a Driver Information System and the Bluetooth mobile phone interface.
Interior highlights of the S line specification include part-leather-upholstery embossed with the S line logo and an S line sports steering wheel with perforated leather grips and shift paddles where S tronic is fitted. Outside, 18-inch alloy wheels, S line body styling and xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lamps set the top model apart.
Full-LED headlights will also be available later in 2013 as an alternative to the xenon units in S line models and the halogen units in Sport versions. S line customers can also swap their sports suspension not only for the comfort-focused standard configuration, but also for an exclusive S line sports set-up which lowers the ride height by a further 10mm below the sports suspension for even greater handling poise.
A number of highly cost effective optional equipment packages focusing on comfort, lighting and technology can be incorporated into the A3 Saloon specification. Among these will be the technology package with Audi connect, which groups together three of the highlights of the new A3 range – MMI navigation plus, MMI Touch and Mobile Phone Preparation – High with Audi connect.
Audi connect – the collective term the brand uses to encompass all the technologies that connect the driver to the car and the Internet – is taken to the next level in the A3. The system not only delivers now familiar services such as Google Maps, Google Street View, Audi traffic information online and Audi music stream, but also now provides ‘Picturebook Navigation’, access to social media services such as Facebook and Twitter, the latest news, flight and train information, nearby refuelling locations graded by price and even a ‘what’s on’ guide in specific towns and cities via its City Events service.
Many more comfort and convenience options can also be added, including a panoramic glass sunroof, the advanced key access and authorisation system, a Bang & Olufsen audio upgrade, adaptive cruise control, ‘hands-free’ park assist and an array of safety systems covering everything from motorway lane control to blind spot monitoring. Alloy wheels of up to 19 inches in diameter and a range of distinctive Audi exclusive paint finishes are also available to add visual impact.
Three high-tech engines
The strict dictate of ‘Audi ultra’ lightweight design is evident in the impressively restrained 1,250kg kerb weight of the A3 1.4 TFSI Saloon that initially kicks off the range. Its advanced 140PS engine is one of three high-tech units to be available at launch, all of which bring together efficiency technologies including direct fuel injection, turbocharging, innovative thermal management and the start-stop system.
As well as a low 107kg weight, this version of the 1.4 TFSI is also notable for its Cylinder-on-Demand technology. At low engine load, the system deactivates two cylinders to minimise mechanical effort and cut fuel consumption. As a result, combined economy tops out at a TDI-rivalling 60.1mpg, while CO2 is pared back to 109 grams per km. Helped by its healthy 250Nm torque peak, the A3 Saloon 1.4 TFSI takes just 8.4 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 62mph, and can reach 135mph where conditions allow.
The 1.8-litre TFSI which is next in line produces 180PS and 250 Nm (184.39 lb-ft) of torque. It employs state-of-the-art technologies, including dual injection into the combustion chambers and the induction manifold, to deliver a broad spread of strong performance, but its headline figures are a 7.3-second 0-62mph sprint time and a 146mph top speed. Combined fuel economy is 50.4mpg, equivalent to 129 grams of CO2 per km.
The diesel contingent is initially represented by the latest 2.0-litre TDI producing 150PS and 320 Nm (236.02 lb-ft) of torque. It powers the A3 Saloon from 0 to 62mph in 8.7 seconds, takes it to a top speed of 137mph and is capable of returning up to 68.9mpg. This equates to CO2 output of 107 grams per km.
S tronic with free-wheeling function
At launch in the UK, 2.0-litre TDI versions are paired with a six-speed manual transmission, and 1.4 TFSI and 1.8 TFSI options with the S tronic dual-clutch gearbox, which shifts without any noticeable break in propulsive power, and is controlled by either the selector lever or paddles on the steering wheel. S tronic offers a free-wheeling function in its efficiency mode which further reduces fuel consumption. More engines, additional engine and transmission permutations and models equipped with quattro permanent all-wheel-drive will come on stream during 2013 and beyond.
The Audi A3 Saloon – UK OTR Pricing – First Phase
|A3 Saloon||1.4TFSI CoD||Sport||140||S tronic||£24,305|
|A3 Saloon||1.4TFSI CoD||S line||140||S tronic||£26,455|
|A3 Saloon||1.8TFSI||Sport||180||S tronic||£25,955|
|A3 Saloon||1.8TFSI||S line||180||S tronic||£28,105|
|A3 Saloon||2.0TDI||S line||150||manual||£26,425|