Audi has unveiled the new A3 saloon. Now, let’s delve into the design more.
The saloon is one of the better models, and is a direct competitor to the new Mercedes CLA saloon. It is based primarily on the A3 Sportback, and it is a teeny bit larger than the Sportback (for nerds: it’s 150mm longer, 11mm wider, 9mm lower than the Sportback). Both the cars have the same wheelbase, though. If you have any doubts regarding WHAT a wheelbase is, I suggest you check out this. It’s the third in what will be a four-model A3 line-up when the new convertible arrives and will be something like the 45th different Audi body-style available in the UK when it goes on sale in the UK in the summer.
The sales of stuff like four door Civics and Corollas and Chevy Cruzes in the US, plus local market cars from GM and VW in China, prove that, as a planet, we are still a deeply conservative bunch. We like our family cars to look like how we drew them at nursery; little box for the engine, bigger box for mum and dad and the kids and another little box for the shopping.
Let’s go to the gallery now:
The exterior(and quirky features):
The A3 saloon is extremely dashing, especially in these pictures. Audi’s design story on the A3 is something it calls ‘The Tornado Line’ – the heavy feature below the windows (and onwards and backwards) that throws an immediate shadow and consequent light flare on the bodyside below. With a lower roof and wider-arches than the Sportback, the feature works especially well on the saloon; it gives it something of the look of an old RS4.
Along with the Merc CLA, which manages to look so much better than the somewhat anonymous A-Class, the A3 saloon might just be the car to re-invigorate what has become a largely forgotten market in the UK, blighted by the big-bummed Fords and Vauxhalls of old. Call us old-fashioned, but we reckon you’d look a lot classier turning up in a CLA or a A3 saloon than you would in their five and three-door siblings.
It also sports 16-inch ’10-spoke’ design alloy wheels, electromechanical parking brakes, and a space-saving spare wheel and exterior wing mirrors – electrically adjustable and heated, front fog lights and a roof spoiler painted in body colour.
Inside, Audi has not messed with what’s one of the best interiors around today. The minimal palette and simple theme (‘slab with two bloody great circular vents’) pioneered all those years ago on the first TT continues to evolve. The great thing is the ‘iPad’ that comes out the dashboard. What you can do on it – and there are options that will allow you to do most everything including finding somewhere to park – depends, as before, on how much you are prepared to spend. It also hosts a little something called Marathon Fabric upholstery and split-folding rear seats, as well as micrometallic silver inlays(joy!).
The Audio and communication(techy stuff)
- 5.8-inch QVGA colour display screen – electrically extending, slimline design
- Audi Music Interface (AMI)
- Bluetooth interface
- Driver’s Information System (DIS) with on-board computer
- MMI radio with MMI control panel
- Preparation for SD card based navigation system
- Voice control system
The engine and pricing:
There are three engines at launch, one diesel and two petrol FSIs with up to 180bhp at launch, with the four-wheel drive 300bhp S3 quattro coming along a few months later to do battle with the CLA AMG 45. It features two new engine systems-Efficiency program in the Driver’s Information System (DIS) and a start-stop system with energy recuperation
Audi UK won’t talk about prices, won’t even say whether it will be more or less than equivalent Sportback models (£19,825 – £27,180). On looks alone however, we reckon it could command a premium. But we suspect that will have a lot to do with what Mercedes does with the CLA.