Recently, we got our hands on the facelifted Audi A3 Sportback with a 1.4 TFSI engine to review. We learned that it was an excellent car with a punchy small engine that more than satisfied. Its interior technology, through its TFT screens, is a force to be reckoned with and it's enough to make other manufacturers want to rethink their future infotainment systems.
A couple of weeks ago, the manufacturer gave us a slightly lower-specced saloon version of the A3 to try. This one housed a 2.0 TDI engine, and while it may have had less of the ultra-futuristic intelligent instrument binnacle technologies of the higher-specced Sportback - it still has enough to impress.
The facelifted Audi A3 doesn't look much different from before, sure there are some design changes to the grille, air vents, etc.; but there can be no denying that the car pretty much looks the same. Yet, for some reason, I've never been so endeared to it. The cabin is excellently put together, and it would have to be ranked as one of the best in class.
On the road, and like the Sportback A3, the S-Line is available with S-Line suspension - for free. However, neither of the models that we tested used it, both had the regular suspension. This makes sense, because as we all know, Irish roads can be bumpy and that mixed with sports suspension can lead to a very bumpy ride.
The 2.0 TDI engine in our test car offers 150 bhp, and the engine is refined when it gets to cruising speeds. As we pointed out at the international launch, the 2.0 TDI option is loud on turnover, and it would be one of the few things that I'd like to change on this car - which leads me to an alternative. We had previously driven the 1.4 TFSI petrol engine in the Sportback. This car offers the same 150hp as the 2.0 TDI model. It's nearly as economical (on-paper) and it costs less (for the entry level models) - the other thing is that the annual tax is less on the petrol.
While the S-Line saloon we were driving didn't house the brilliant instrument binnacle that we tested in the Sportback model, the lesser specced model did have the same pop-up 5.8" LCD screen. This makes for a nearly button-free environment and the system itself is controlled from the flat-bottomed steering wheel or the toggle switches in the centre console. The system is easy to use and you can do so with your eyes on the road.
Like the Sportback, the rear does lack leg room, but oddly-enough you get more boot space in the saloon version.
All in, this is still an excellent car. Entry level saloon versions start from €29,810. If you want to move up to the S-Line trim that we were driving (2.0 TDI 150 S-tronic), you will be looking at €39,970 – which is a big leap. Our test car had a few extras like; anti-dazzle rear view mirror, MMI Navigation, interior light package, and more. These extras all-in increased the car’s price to €43,521.
Simply put, the Audi A3 in either guise (Sportback, Hatchback or Saloon) is an excellent choice. However, entry pricing is not cheap, nor are the optional extras – but that’s the price of a luxury brand. Special mention must be given to the 7-speed S-Tronic gearbox in this car. It’s very good.