2014 Audi A3 Saloon Review

We try the Audi A3 40 TFSI, which is not at all a 4.0-litre, but is rather good, and surprising value

By Shahzad Sheikh

Audi A3 saloon

You can go out today and buy a smart-looking Audi saloon car for just AED109,500 ($29.8k). Yep you heard me right. Okay I’m just gonna leave that to sink in for a bit and get on with my introduction to this review now…

My favourite Audis are currently the amazing RS6 Avant / RS7 duo which are Q-car monster machines that could bully a Shelby and outgrip a GTR. They’re a class apart and set a very high bar. And I couldn’t help glancing over at the RS6 in the car park as I pressed the key-fob plipper to locate the little A3 – a car that is about one-sixth of the price of either of the dynamic duo.

Read our original launch review by Fraser Martin here

Audi A3 saloon

Styling

Parked amongst a sea of classy metal in this elite car park, you might have expected the baby Audi to feel a little lost and slightly sorry for itself. But sitting low and mean it looked rather tasty actually. It didn’t look out of place and the skirts, spoilers and ground-hugging stance actually give it a greater presence than its diminutive size should have any right too.

It’s actually shorter and lower than a Toyota Corolla. But part of the genius of its outward presence is that even compared with the comparatively dowdy A3 hatchback, this car is 9mm lower and 11mm wider. It’s one of the few times that the four-door saloon version of something derived from a hatchback, actually looks better – way better in my opinion.

Audi A3 saloon

Inside

Inside things continued to impress. Rear space is a little tight, but not unaccommodating and boot space is adequate with split folding seats. Space up front is no issue at all, even for my lanky frame. Also in abundance it that feeling of solidity and quality that you expect from an Audi. There’s been no cutting corners here, it’s all nicely fitted together, free of squeaks and rattles, and the central screen glides smoothly in and out of its slot with barely a sound or shimmy.

The electronics are good, the sound system is nice, and there’s a few nice touches like the beautifully damped and presented a/c vents. You do realise how small it is in from the inside, but the typical Audi feel-good gives you a sense of being in a decent sized exec car.

Audi A3 saloon

Driving

So clearly they must have skimped in the drive, right? Well it doesn’t have an VW group 2.0-litre Turbo engine – but that’s reserved for the S3 version of this, which puts out a terrific 296bhp! The saloon we tested, and which you can indeed buy in base trim for AED109,500, is a 1.8-litre Turbo (dubbed 40 TFSI in Audis convoluted and confusion new engine-speak) that produces 180bhp and is good for a 0-100kph time of 7.3seconds and 242kph.

That means it’s no slouch, and whilst there is a 4WD version available, the one I tried was putting its power down through the front wheels only through a 7-speed auto. From behind the wheel it feels quick and urgent enough with decent torque through the rev range. It’s plenty for city driving and but even on a longer run out of town taking in a challenging twisty section, it only struggle a little on the uphill sections.

Audi A3 saloon

Having said that, the body control was so much better than you’d expect of a small saloon, the grip suggested this car doesn’t really need the available quattro option. It was eager, responsive, admirably quashing understeer and dare I say it – actually rather entertaining.

Back in the city, of course, its compact dimensions make it easy to park and dart in and out of gaps, and low fuel consumption adds to the practicality.

Audi A3 saloon

Verdict

You know when I said you could have an A3 saloon for as little as AED109,500? I lied. In fact you can have the base model with the 1.4-litre engine (30 TFSI) and 140bhp for just AED92k, or the better specced Ambition trim for AED99,500. That’s still good for 0-100kph in 9.3seconds and 212kph.

But really you should opt for the 1.8 (40 TFSI), though you don’t need to spend the extra AED10,000 for the Quattro – off the line acceleration improves by half a second thanks to the better traction but top speed goes down.

Audi A3 saloon

Save your money for the options instead. Our test car came with Milano leather, Equipment package including keyless entry/start, electric drivers seat, parking sensors and rear-view camera and Audi music interface. It also had the Style package with high-gloss finish, S line exterior package, Panoramic sunroof. Throw in hold assist and mobile phone/key holder and ashtray and that brought the price up to AED132,100.

Okay, so you can get bigger, and larger-engined cars for the money – a vastly spacious and comfy Passat from within the same stable only costs about AED87k. But if your priority is to put a classier badge in your driveway, get a decent drive, and robust quality, with outright space being a less important consideration, then this is the potentially the cheapest German ‘executive’ saloon you can buy.

And it’s a good one, well worth looking into!

2014 Audi A3 Saloon review – The Specs

Prices:
30 TFSI 1.4 S Tronic FWD Attraction – AED92,000 ($25,050)
30 TFSI 1.4 S Tronic FWD Ambition – AED99,500 ($27,090)
40 TFSI 1.8 S Tronic FWD Ambition – AED109,500 ($29,812)
40 TFSI 1.8 S Tronic Quattro AWD Ambition – AED119,500 ($32,535)

Specifications and performance for 30 TFSI FWD:
Engine: 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo, 180bhp @ 5100-6200rpm, 184lb ft @ 1250-5000rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Fuel Economy: 10.5/100km
Performance: 0-100kph 7.3 seconds, Top speed 235kph
Gross Weight: 1440kg

2 responses to “2014 Audi A3 Saloon Review”

  1. Wait… WHAT? AN AUDI for Under 100k – and it is POWERFUL TOO?? I WANT ONE!

  2. Vinod says:

    Dealers are topping it with options and making it expensive!!! Getting a base one means long waiting periods!!

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