– these attractive attributes characterised the first generation of the Audi A3 Saloon and continue to be the cornerstones for its all-new successor, which is due to make its UK debut in the summer. Following these underlying principles, the compact four-door model has undergone a wholesale redesign alongside its five-door Sportback counterpart drawing on the very latest Audi developments in digitalisation, connectivity, driver assistance technology and powertrain optimisation. Highlights include the adoption of fully digital cockpit architecture with the touch-screen MMI Touch concept at its heart, the integration of mild hybrid MHEV drivetrains for selected models and the introduction of advanced new lighting configurations that give each variant a specific light ‘signature’.
The focal point at the front of the new A3 Saloon is of course the large Singleframe with honeycomb grille. It is flanked by striking trapezoidal LED headlight units in all versions, under which are LED daytime running lights with specific light ‘signatures’ which differ by model. A configuration using horizontal lines marks out the Sport variant while two vertical LED lines complement the even more focused look of the S line. The top tier Edition 1 and Vorsprung models upgrade to full Matrix LED units which, for the first time, incorporate new digital daytime running lights comprising 15 LED segments in a three-by-five arrangement. In addition, the matrix LED headlights offer intelligently controlled high beam light, dynamic turn signal light and dynamic light sequencing when the car is locked and unlocked.
In contrast with the A3 Sportback, in which the body line running above the sill rises slightly towards the rear lights before the rear wheel arch to accentuate the short rear end, the Saloon’s body line continues in a straight line up to the rear bumper. This emphasises its length – 15 centimetres longer than the Sportback – and makes for elegant proportions in profile. The concave surface under the broad body shoulder further accentuates the quattro blisters and the sill, while the roof line, which tapers down from the B-pillar and finishes in a striking spoiler on the tailgate, draws inspiration from classic coupé design.
The exterior of the new A3 Saloon projects an image of absolute modernity and technological acuity, and the cabin more than lives up to the expectations it creates. The high definition lines of the dashboard with its striking air vents, the attractively sculpted door handles and the new compact gear shifter with its much- reduced dimensions draw the eye initially until ignition brings to life the central 10.1-inch MMI Touch screen and the 10.25-inch fully digital cockpit display in the binnacle, both of which are subtly integrated using a black panel design. Inclined slightly towards the driver, the primary 10.1-inch touch-screen display gives access to all media, navigation and internet-based Audi connect functions and includes handwriting detection as well as natural language control that can optionally draw on the capabilities of the cloud. In Edition 1 and Vorsprung versions the 10.25-inch fully digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel is upgraded to the Audi virtual cockpit plus with a wider 12.3-inch screen offering three different views, one of which presents RPM and speed as bar diagrams with angular red graphical elements. In the Vorsprung model, an additional head-up display perfectly complements the new digital concept, projecting important information onto the windscreen in the driver’s direct field of vision.
The new A3 Saloon is available with a choice of three engines at launch - two 1.5-litre TFSI units and one 2.0-litre TDI – all of which major on efficiency. The 35 TFSI, a 1.5-litre direct injection engine, incorporates cylinder-on-demand technology and delivers 150PS. In conjunction with a newly developed six-speed manual transmission, it is capable of returning up to 48.7 MPG with CO2 output of 132g/km in an A3 Saloon equipped to Sport specification, according to WLTP test data.
A second version of this unit is used in combination with the quick-shifting seven-speed S tronic, which now performs its changes via a new switch using shift-by-wire technology.
This 1.5-litre TFSI combines cylinder-on-demand efficiency with a 48-volt mild hybrid system capable of recovering energy during deceleration, supporting the engine with up to 50 Nm of additional torque under acceleration from low engine speeds and allowing the A3 Saloon to coast with the engine switched off in many situations. The fuel savings it affords help to increase the WLTP-ratified economy potential of the A3 Saloon 35 TFSI Sport S tronic to up to 50.4 MPG while paring back CO2 to 128g/km, despite an identical power output to the ‘standard’ 1.5 TFSI. In a similar vein, a 1.0 TFSI three-cylinder engine with 110PS will be included in the next phase of engine introductions, and will be available with either manual transmission or as a 48-volt mild hybrid version with S tronic dual-clutch transmission.
The 2.0 TDI with 150PS in the A3 Saloon 35 TDI also works in conjunction with a seven-speed S tronic, and offers the potential to return up to 62.8 MPG with CO2 emissions of 119g/km. Later in the launch cycle a 116PS version of the four-cylinder TDI linked to the highly efficient new six-speed manual transmission will power a 30 TDI version of the A3 Saloon.
In the UK the first versions of the new A3 Saloon will become available to order in late April with prices starting from £26,870 OTR for the 35 TFSI Sport with manual transmission, rising to £32,220 for the 35 TDI S line S tronic. Deliveries will begin in the summer.