Audi A3 saloon to rival Mercedes CLA; four-wheel drive S3 variant to follow in 2014
26 March 2013

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." 

Click here for more Shanghai motor show 2013 news.

Our Verdict

The Audi A3 is now in its third-generation and the premium hatchback ups the ante on quality once more

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Comments
13

26 March 2013

The wheelbase is "2400mm" , even though it shares the 2636 wheelbase of the sportback...

 Good try, but it needs to be lower, with a slightly longer tail.

26 March 2013

just on looks, its rather 'odd' from the rear. Maybe it will look better in the metal. 

But with its main competitors being the BMW 1 series and A class Merc the Audi designers must have known they didnt have to try very hard.

 

 

27 March 2013

The baby Merc hasn't been around for long but its already forced Audi into following up the A3 hatch with a saloon and the fastest S3 which is still nowhere near as fast as the AMG which is truly a bombshell.

The question however is will Audi drop its prices here in the UK to compete with the baby Merc as it has in some parts of the world? Or do we have to keep paying over the odds for the "perceived quality!"

27 March 2013

..at the large selection of pictures on my 'NetCarShow' app and I quite like the look of it. The rear deck reminds me of the VW CC, i.e. a small 4 door coupe (as they all seem to be these days). 

Its definitely better resolved than the CLA and would probably be my preferred choice were I looking to purchase this type of car. 

"Will accept donation of a Carrera GT, EB110 SS or McLaren F1...oh yeah or a Spyker C8 Aileron Spyder"

27 March 2013

I still want to see this car in the flesh as I'm not sure whether it's transferred as successfully from paper to metal as I was hoping.

I was also hoping they may do a coupe version but I'd imagine that's unlikely.

Performance wise it's about where you'd expect from factory, and the beauty of the 2.0T lump is the raft of aftermarket tuning options that will take you to 360bhp+ range without too much outlay (which the Haldex system manages admirably, less so the manual clutch).

'S' model won't be aimed at AMG, more likely 'RS' if it was ever to materialise.

27 March 2013

Autocar wrote:

"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. 

What a load of marketing bo lacks!

Read, it's aimed at the fleet market for exactly the sort of person the Audi brand has become known for.

In reality, it's an entry level saloon for the Audi range which will pull in the punters who think the A4 is now too big and bloated and too expensive.  

 

Autocar wrote:

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. 

Mercedes caught us with out pants down with the CLA styling, so now we are trying to talk up the 2/3 sized Audi A4 photo copy model we have produced.

Get real Audi, this doesn't have any semblance of a coupe about this design.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

27 March 2013

Excellent post, TegTypeR. I agree with every word. As I was reading the comments I was thinking about writing something similar but fumbling for the words.

I hated all that stuff about ""This is a car that will attract young professionals to the brand, people with their first managerial job..." It just reeks to me snobbery and wretched status-seeking types.
(And this from me, and Audi driver!)

28 March 2013

This will be overpriced here in Ireland with our VRT added to the price.I agree with Teg this is another attempt by a so called 'premium' manufacturer to peddle a saloon as a coupe.The marketing speel will fool many to part with their hard earned of course.

19 April 2013

Yep, that Audi statement sure sounds difficult to swallow. Needs a rewrite I feel.

20 April 2013

I always fancied a VW Jetta with a nicer interior. It has finally arrived.

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