From £22,9007
We find out whether Audi's turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine is up to the challenge of hauling around the bigger, heavier A3 saloon

Our Verdict

Audi A3 Saloon

Audi has aimed to follow on from the success of the A3 hatchback by turning it into Inglostadt's first compact executive saloon

What is it?

Audi's latest addition to the A3 line-up marks its first entry into the modern compact saloon class. The saloon is wider and longer than the A3 Sportback, consequently it offers more load space than its estate sibling. The A3 saloon is also a completely new body design, sharing no panels with the Sportback.

The 138bhp 1.4-litre TFSI engine tested here is one of three redesigned engine units to be available at launch, the others being a 178bhp 1.8-litre TFSI and a 148bhp 2.0-litre TDI.

The engine range is likely to grow in future with the addition of two new entry-level engine options - a 104bhp 1.6-litre TDI unit and a 181bhp 2.0-litre TDI unit.

Cylinder-on-demand technology is also integrated into this entry-level engine, with the car's engine-management system shutting down two cylinders under low engine load to reduce mechanical wear, cut emissions and improve fuel economy.

What's it like?

The 1.4-litre engine pulls hard initially and keeps on going right into the higher rev ranges. There isn't the same flow of power as there is in the higher-powered 1.8-litre TFSI or in the 2.0-litre TDI version, but the smallest of the A3's engines still copes well in most situations.

Audi's A3 saloon is well refined in all areas with little or no engine noise intruding into the cabin. Add to that the fact that the 1.4 is a quiet engine anyway and the result is a competent but quiet cruiser.

Overtaking can take time while the engine musters all of its available horsepower, but the 1.4 is a trade-off between performance and economy. Audi claims the car can average 60.1mpg, and we had no trouble matching that on our test run. 

We only had the opportunity to drive the six-speed manual versions of the 1.4-litre TFSI model, which won't be be available at launch; instead, the car will be offered initially with a seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic gearbox. The six-speed manual transmission will become available later.

Audi's seven-speed dual-clutch unit is a well-proven unit, however, so expect it to deliver quick and unobtrusive gearshifts. The manual option provided clear and fast changes, however, with little shift resistance. There's even fairly good acceleration on offer in sixth gear, which is handy for passing manoeuvres on the motorway. 

The electromechanical steering fitted to the A3 is nicely weighted, but like most other units of its type it lacks feeling. It's unlikely that this will faze many potential buyers, but nevertheless it was a small disappointment on our test car. 

The ventilated disc brakes on the A3 saloon perform very well, giving a balanced but decisive braking force with minimal effort required from the driver. Coupled with Audi's various active and passive safety technologies, the new A3 feels like a secure place to be.

Should I buy one?

If we're honest we would go for the 2.0-litre TDI diesel version for the extra power, but if you don't do enough miles to bring about the benefits of a diesel, then this 1.4 TFSI is a worthy option.

It's nimble and lively, with an engine note that's as pleasing at 30mph as it is at 70mph. The fitment of a seven-speed S tronic gearbox, a £1480 option, brings the price to £24,305. That still, however, gives the A3 saloon a considerable price advantage next to rivals like the Mercedes CLA 180 Manual and the Volvo S60 T3 R-design.

Audi A3 Saloon 1.4 TFSI Sport

Price £24,305; Top speed 135mph, 0-62mph 8.4sec; Economy 60.1mpg; CO2 109g/km; Kerb weight 1325kg; Engine type 1395cc, four cylinder, turbocharged, petrol; Power 138bhp at 5000rpm; Torque 184lb ft at 1500-3500rpm; Gearbox 7-spd automatic

Join the debate


19 June 2013

"Audi's seven-speed dual-clutch unit is a well-proven unit"

According to some reports from Australia it seems to have proven itself to be unreliable and dangerous.

As for the car, meh. Like the rest of the Audi range, there is very little to get excited about unless it is a TT, R8 or any of the R/RS models.

19 June 2013

paul896 wrote:

"Audi's seven-speed dual-clutch unit is a well-proven unit"



Beat me to it - have the Autocar writers have their heads in the sand?   C'mon guys, you're meant to be informed - sharing the benefit of your knowledge with us.

'Audi's troubled dual-clutch unit' would be more appropriate.

19 June 2013

Dear Soldi,

Admittedly the VW Group, as you quite rightly observe, has been experiencing some issues with the DQ200 seven-speed dual-clutch transmission in some regions. None of these problems, however, have reputedly been reported in the UK.

For more information, click here.

Best regards,

Lewis Kingston 

19 June 2013

Lewis Kingston wrote:

None of these problems, however, have reputedly been reported in the UK.

.....according to a VW press release

But take a look at the commentary under your original reporting of that release - there are plenty of customers who dispute what VW is saying.

19 June 2013

I fail to see how the S60 is a rival - surely this is a rival for a A4.

Overall looks ok - but I must admit price does seem slightly steep. I don't doubt this will sell by the bucket loads though - everyone seems to want a audi - and think its a very prestigious brand.

Unless I am just getting old - £24k just seems a bit pricy for me - I guess this is similar length to the audi a4 of 2 generations ago?

19 June 2013

The gearbox problems are irrelevant in this case. The DQ200 box is only for engines delivering not more than 148lbf, this engine delivers 184lbf. 


I'm a disillusioned former Citroëniste.


19 June 2013

"The saloon is wider and longer than the A3 Sportback, consequently it offers more load space" ... surely an estate version should offer more space than a saloon? Perhaps a separate A3 Estate will extend the saloon (which is really just a 5dr hatch version anyway)?

19 June 2013

"We only had the opportunity to drive the six-speed manual versions of the 1.4-litre TFSI model, which won't be be available at launch; instead, the car will be offered initially with a seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic gearbox. The six-speed manual transmission will become available later."

This statement suggests to me that either Audi are offering the engine with a five-speed manual transmission OR basically adding £1,480 to the list price at a stroke ...

19 June 2013

VW has a pending class action suit filed against them in Israel.

After initially dragging their feet with failing DSG's and abnormally high clutch wear, they increased the DSG’s warrantee to 5 years, and readily swap worn clutch plates at no cost. This as a result of many claims filed against them in Israeli courts.

Early units suffered from very high clutch degradation, complete unit “catastrophic” failures and faulty ‘box CPU’s. VW tried to rebuff customers with “improper use” excuses, but mounting claims and media exposure forced them to reconsider. Their next move was to tacitly apply a five year warrantee, meaning that while customers purchased their vehicles with a two year warrantee, VW would repair all DSG faults for five years if you argued threatned and stood your ground.


The latest class action suit aims to impose a ten year, 300k km warrantee on all VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat products with a DSG ‘box retroactively as well as on all new models sold.

19 June 2013

Seems a touch expensive, when the Jetta starts at just over £16k and is basically the same car.


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