Audi A3 Saloon Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Sunday 5th February


What is it like to drive?

From launch there are four different versions of the A3 to choose from – the 30 and 35 TFSI, and the 30 and 35 TDI. TFSI means petrol and TDI means diesel, while 30 and 35 relate to horsepower. The 30 TFSI uses a 1.0-litre triple with 108bhp, and the 35 uses a 1.5-litre four-cylinder with 148bhp. Both 30 and 35 diesels use a 2.0-litre motor with 114bhp and 148bhp respectively.

The 30 TFSI and TDI come with a six-speed manual gearbox which, as we know from our review of the A3 Sportback, isn’t brilliant. The 35 TFSI, which has cylinder shut-down for better fuel consumption, gets the option of a manual or seven-speed dual-clutch auto, while the 35 TDI is only available with the auto ‘box.

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The 35 TFSI auto, the A3 Saloon we’ve tested, also gets 48-volt mild-hybrid tech. In practice this means the engine can switch itself off if you’re coasting (down a long hill on the motorway, for example), that the stop-start is super smooth and you get a 37lb ft torque boost when you clog it. You probably won’t notice the supposed economy benefit – our A3 Saloon returned about the same mpg as the Sportback we reviewed, which had the same engine but the manual ‘box. Still that’s over 50mpg on the motorway.

The 1.5-litre motor is very quiet and acceptably powerful. 0-62mph takes 8.4 seconds. Peak torque is delivered between 1,500 and 3,500rpm and there’s nothing to be gained from going beyond. The seven-speed auto is slick and smooth in its operation, and doesn’t fumble standing starts at busy junctions as much as others, but it isn’t quite as intuitive as BMW’s brilliant eight-speed auto. You can swap gears manually using paddles on the steering wheel, but changes aren’t especially quick.

In all, the A3 Saloon goes about its business without fuss. The ride is firm-edged but fine and it steers surprisingly keenly, which bodes well for the S3 and RS3. On the motorway it all feels very stable and serene, with minimal wind noise. A fine long-distance cruiser.

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Highlights from the range

the fastest

Audi A3 S3 TFSI 4dr S Tronic [Comfort+Sound]
  • 0-624.8s
  • CO2
  • BHP310
  • MPG
  • Price£39,025

the cheapest

Audi A3 30 TFSI Sport 4dr S Tronic
  • 0-6210.6s
  • CO2
  • BHP110
  • MPG
  • Price£27,075

Variants We Have Tested

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