Audi is putting the finishing touches to its third A3 model, the ‘Sportlimousine’ – or saloon to people who don’t speak marketing. The A3 saloon will land in UK dealers by the end of 2013.
A concept car at the 2011 Geneva show previewed the four-door A3, and its small notchbook rump and dynamic lines will be put into production almost unchanged. Although the four-door model shares its all-new platform with the three-door and five-door Sportback hatches, the A3 saloon is slightly longer, has a surprisingly spacious boot and features a more upmarket interior. Expect all that to translate into a showroom price above the entry-level three-door’s £19,205 and Sportback’s £19,825.
What goes in the nose?
Most of the four-cylinder transverse engines are familiar, because they’re already available in the A3: 121bhp 1.4-litre and 177bhp 1.8-litre petrol, 104bhp 1.6-litre turbodiesel and 148bhp 2.0 TDI. Two more variants are on the way: the 138bhp 1.4-litre TFSI with cylinder deactivation, which seamlessly shuts down two cylinders while cruising to save fuel, and an uprated 2.0-litre turbodiesel, with a potent 184bhp.
Expect the A3 saloon to ultimately get the uprated, 296bhp 2.0-litre TFSI from the imminent S3 hot hatch, which should crack the 0-62mph benchmark in 5.1sec. Possible but still to be confirmed is a 380bhp RS3 Sportlimousine. This gets quattro four-wheel drive, like the S3, 1.8 TFSI and both 2.0 TDI models.
Can a four-door work in Europe?
Since the demise of Rover, small saloons have been a rare breed on British roads: we shun them, unlike the Spanish and Italians. But Audi GB is determined to make a fist of selling the A3 Sportlimousine – and given the UK public’s appetite for all things Audi, it’ll probably succeed, despite the bodystyle’s previous pensioner connotations. But it’s the world’s two biggest car markets – China and the USA – that have ensured the green light for Ingolstadt’s baby saloon: they can’t get enough of four-door saloons.
See BMW’s 1-series saloon scoop