This new compact saloon variant of the Audi A3, seen here officially for the first time ahead of its Shanghai motor show reveal, will be coming to the UK this autumn. A potent 296bhp Audi S3 version of the new four-door will also be part of the line-up.
The A3 saloon, which has the Mercedes CLA as its chief rival, is 4460mm long, 1796mm wide and 1416mm high, with a wheelbase of 2400mm. This makes it 150mm longer, 11mm wider and 9mm lower than the A3 Sportback on which it is based, with the pair sharing the same 2636mm wheelbase.
These dimensions also make it 170mm shorter, 19mm wider and 19mm lower than the Mercedes CLA. The wheelbase of the CLA is 63mm longer than the A3 saloon’s.
"This is a car that will attract young professionals to the brand, people with their first managerial job, perhaps with only young children, but who want to enjoy their success," said an Audi spokesman. China is expected to be the biggest market for the car, with younger, wealthy businessmen increasingly opting to drive rather than be driven, followed by the US. In Europe, sales will concentrate on Russia, Germany and the UK.
Rupert Stadler, chairman of Audi, said "We will also build this model in our Chinese plant later this year. China is our largest single market and growing every year; we will also launch the A3 e-tron there."
The obvious styling change over the A3 Sportback is the addition of a boot, but revisions have also been made to the bonnet, bumpers, air intakes and wheel arches to give the A3 saloon a lower, sleeker profile and stance next to the A3 Sportback. Audi says the overall looks adds “the coupe philosophy” to a three-box saloon.
The boot capacity is 425 litres, some 45 litres more than the A3 Sportback. The rest of the cabin is otherwise identical to the A3 Sportback’s.
Three engines familiar from the rest of the A3 range will be offered from launch: 138bhp 1.4 TFSI and 178bhp 1.8 TFSI petrols, and a 148bhp 2.0 TDI diesel.
The four-wheel drive S3 saloon will be introduced early next year. Its 2.0 TFSI engine helps propel it from 0-62mph in 4.9secs when equipped with the optional six-speed double-clutch S-tronic automatic gearbox. A six-speed manual, with a 0-62mph time of 5.3sec, is standard.
"We're now entering the world's biggest segment - the compact saloon," said Stadler. "The A3 is a genuinely sporty saloon and a pretty cool car. It's a pioneer in its segment and it will help Audi stay the number one premium brand in China. We expect it to be popular with younger buyers."
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