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2013 Audi A3 Saloon 1.8 TFSI review and pictures

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The Audi A3 Saloon reviewed in top spec petrol turbo form. Until the S3 arrives, anyway...

2013 Audi A3 Saloon 1.8 TFSI red

What is it?

The Audi A3 Saloon, the first four-door iteration of the company’s C-segment car released a year into the mk3 model’s life. It rivals the recently launched Mercedes CLA and is priced to undercut it, starting at £24,275. Order books are open now, with UK deliveries starting in September.

Technical highlights?

If you’ve read any motoring press in the last 12 months you’re probably familiar with (and possibly a bit bored by) ‘MQB’, the architecture beneath all new transverse front-engined VW Group cars that cuts their development costs, resulting in yet more niche-exploring, as exemplified here. The A3 Saloon’s predominant markets will be China and North America.

Find a used Audi A3 on evo Cars for Sale

Front and rear track widths are up by 20mm over the A3 Sportback, while the Saloon’s 425-litre boot is 45 litres bigger. Perhaps confusingly, Sports Suspension is 15mm lower than basic but is standard-fit, though can be deleted as a no-cost option, while sportier S-line trim comes with the option of a further 10mm drop. Each of the A3 Saloons sold at launch weighs less than 1400kg.

Engines are the usual mix of turbocharged petrols and diesels; the latter will hoover up most sales but the options for the former are more interesting. A 138bhp 1.4-litre TFSI unit with ‘Cylinder on Demand’, where two of its four cylinders are shut out during low throttle load, helps achieve a similar CO2 figure to a comparable diesel. But it’s this 178bhp 1.8-litre TFSI which acts as a range-topper until the 296bhp S3 arrives.

What’s it like to drive?

Audi road test cliché bingo cards at the ready: this is a car that doesn’t step out of line with the company’s typical dynamic profile at all. Firm, occasionally wheel-thumping ride? Check. Light, numb steering? Check. Safe, understeer-biased handling? Check. It’s Audi by numbers, but that brings its positives, too: the interior possesses quality and a level of feel-good factor that other VW Group cars made from a similar box of bits can’t match.

And like all Audis, this is a very easy car to make effortlessly fast progress in. Once you’re accustomed to the hard ride (we tried cars on both basic and Sports suspension; both were rather busy on anything less than blemish-free roads) this is a neat and incisive car to drive, if lacking in ultimate engagement.

The engine is far more pleasant to use than the 2-litre TDI and relatively happy to rev, though if it’s a fizzy, effervescent turbo petrol engine you’re after, the 138bhp 1.4 TFSI is a better bet, its horsepower deficit covered up by an identical torque figure. It can’t match the 1.8’s high-speed smoothness and refinement, however. The 1.8 TFSI initially comes to the UK with the six-speed S-tronic automatic only, with a manual to follow, and the twin-clutch unit actually matches the engine’s demeanour perfectly.

How does it compare?

The A3 Saloon is a smart looking thing but not as swoopy as the Mercedes CLA, though the 208bhp CLA250 is a little more powerful and more expensive, with an estimated price north of £28,000 when it arrives in the UK.

Anything else I need to know?


More up our street will be the Audi S3 Saloon, which launches late in 2013. With 296bhp, a circa-5sec 0-60mph time and a limited 155mph top speed, it’s similar in size and performance to the original Audi S4.

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evo RATING

 
[+]
Nice interior, good looks
[-]
Cheaper 1.4 is a little more fun

evo SPECIFICATIONS

 
Engine: In-line 4-cyl, 1798cc, turbocharged
Max power: 178bhp @ 5100-6200rpm
Max torque: 184lb ft @ 1250-5000rpm
0 - 60mph: 7.3sec (claimed 0-62)
Top speed: 146mph (claimed)
Price: £25,955

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