Audi A3 Saloon 1.4

TFSI Sport

Audi A3 Saloon, front
Audi A3 Saloon, side
Audi A3 Saloon, rear, action
Audi A3 Saloon, rear
Audi A3 Saloon, interior
Audi A3 Saloon, rear seats
Audi A3 Saloon, boot

SOMETIMES a car comes along where everything just seems to come together. The Audi A3 Saloon is just such a car.

It looks great, it's practical, its build is top notch and it's got the best chassis of any I have experienced in the medium car sector.

That's some achievement when you remember the A3 shares its underpinnings with the VW Golf, SEAT Leon and Skoda Octavia - no mean performers themselves.

While A3 hatchbacks come in a number of trim levels, the saloon is only available in top-end Sport and S line versions. Prices are also top-end but it's still a lot cheaper than its main Mercedes CLA rival.

Both Audi versions are well equipped. The Sport on test includes alloys, climate control and sports seats while the S line has part-leather upholstery and lots of sporty styling upgrades.

The saloon has neat, crisp lines that flow into a sleeky, purposeful look. It definitely is not a frumpy three-box because the Audi has done a lot more than just substitute a boot for the tapered rear end of the A3 Sportback.

Longer, wider and lower than the Sportback, the saloon also has a wider track, flared wheelarches and integrated rear spoiler to add to the sporty appearance.

There is more load area in the saloon, 425 litres against 380 litres in the Sportback. True the boot aperture is narrow, but there is plenty of space for most needs.

Power in this particular version came from a 1.4-litre TFSI petrol engine. Business users might well opt for the 1.6 or 2.0-litre diesels but for me the 1.4 petrol is the one to go for.

It is brilliant. There's plenty of power and torque (184lb/ft of it) all the way across the rev band from 1,500-3,500rpm. And it is very refined.

Audi claims 60.1mpg although in reality its nearer 50mpg in the mixed driving conditions, including bumper-to-bumper city traffic. Top speed is 134mph with 0-62mph taking 8.4 seconds.

In the wet, there is almost too much torque with the front end sometimes scrabbling around for grip.

The seven-speed S tronic automatic gearbox is slick and positive although it can sometimes get confused if you try and change gear manually using the paddle shift system.

The chassis is what makes the saloon feel so special - offering a superb combination of handling and ride that is hard to beat.

The A3 saloon always feels totally planted on the road, encouraging you to push on through corners, which it deals with exceptionally well.

The suspension does feel a bit on the firm side but I think most people prefer that to the sense of wallowing you can get in softer-sprung cars.

The standard Sport suspension can be swapped for a Comfort spec with no extra charge if a softer ride is more important to you. And in any case, there's a drive select adaptive system that you can flip between comfort and sport settings.

FAST FACTS

Audi A3 Saloon 1.4 TFSI Sport

Price:£24,305

Mechanical:140ps, 1,395cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed:134mph

0-62mph:8.4 seconds

Combined MPG:60.1

Insurance Group:21

C02 emissions:109g/km

Bik rating:14%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000 miles

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