It’s a brand new Audi A3 saloon!

27 March, 2013 | by Michael Harvey

This extremely cute Audi A3 saloon makes its debut in New York today, the smallest Audi on sale there. It’s the third in what will be a four-model A3 line-up when the new convertible arrives and will be something like the 45th different Audi body-style available in the UK when it goes on sale there later this year. More good news is that this A3 Saloon will be making its way to South Africa, although we cannot tell you when just yet.

But what might seem like yet another example of Audi ticking every box in its vast model-planning matrix is actually the over-fertile brand’s first entry in to the world’s biggest market segment – little saloons.

The sales of stuff like four door Civics and Corollas and Chevy Cruzes in the US, plus local market cars from GM and VW in China, prove that, as a planet, we are still a deeply conservative bunch. We like our family cars to look like how we drew them at nursery; little box for the engine, bigger box for mum and dad and the kids and another little box for the shopping.

Not that the A3 saloon is anything other than extremely dashing, especially in these pictures, which show the tricked-up S3 version complete with full-on LED lamps and what look like 19 inch wheels, which are available. Audi’s design story on the A3 is something it calls ‘The Tornado Line’ – the heavy feature below the windows (and onwards and backwards) that throws an immediate shadow and consequent light flare on the bodyside below. With a lower roof and wider-arches than the Sportback, the feature works especially well on the saloon; it gives it something of the look of an old RS4.

Along with the Merc CLA, which manages to look so much better than the somewhat anonymous A-Class, the A3 saloon might just be the car to re-invigorate what has become a largely forgotten market in the UK, blighted by the big-bummed Fords and Vauxhalls of old. Call us old-fashioned, but we reckon you’d look a lot classier turning up in a CLA or a A3 saloon than you would in their five and three-door siblings.

Inside Audi has not messed with what’s one of the best interiors around today. The minimal palette and simple theme (‘slab with two bloody great circular vents’) pioneered all those years ago on the first TT continues to evolve. The news on the saloon – like the three-door and Sportback – is the ‘iPad’ that elevates out of its slot in the middle of the dash. What you can do on it – and there are options that will allow you to do most everything including finding somewhere to park – depends, as before, on how much you are prepared to spend. Tricking-up the infotainment is to Gen Y-ers what wheels and tyres were to Gen X-ers. Will this new car become a favourite in the A3 family or will it unwillingly become the odd one out? Lets wait and see.

Specs: S3 Sedan with 221 kW, 380Nm, 0 to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds, top speed 250 km/h, price tbc






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