Audi A3 Saloon (2013-2020) Review

The compact Audi A3 Saloon makes a strong case for itself compared with the larger Audi A4

Strengths & weaknesses

  • Looks good
  • Back seats fold down
  • Interior feels well made
  • Limited choice of models
  • Media system could be slicker
  • Premium badge means premium prices
Audi A3 Saloon prices from £12,500.
Finance from £225.66 / month.

Used Audi A3 Saloon prices from £9,250   Finance from £191.36 per month

This is the four-door saloon version of the Audi A3, featuring a sleeker profile and doing away with the hatchback boot. It was launched in mid-2013, as Audi sought to replicate the popularity of its larger A4 saloon at a lower price point.

This version is no longer available new, but it makes an appealing used car with economy-focused diesel versions, affordable petrol models and high-performance S3 and RS3 incarnations. Considering it's stature as an upmarket saloon car with excellent build quality and plenty of equipment on board, the A3 is now very affordable on the used market, making it a realistic alternative to typically cheaper cars such as the latest Ford Focus, while it remains competitively priced against the similarly posh Mercedes CLA.

Later models saw only one petrol option - the 190hp 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol unit referred to as 40 TFSI - which came with an automatic transmission and four-wheel drive.

Those doing longer distances might prefer the 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre diesel offerings, known as 30 TDI, 35 TDI and 40 TDI. They promise lower emissions and improved fuel economy, and can be paired with manual or automatic gearboxes, as well as four-wheel drive.

It’s a handsome saloon with a dashboard design that has aged well. That’s because it’s relatively simple, with a minimalistic layout - and a sleek pop-out media system - that ensures it’s both intuitive to live with and easy on the eye.

Compared with any other new Audi and key rivals such as the Mercedes CLA, there are areas where the A3 Saloon is showing its age. For example, the media system has a screen that can be lowered into the dashboard at the touch of button, but because it’s only seven inches in size, it can prove a bit of a strain on the eye when trying to decode sat-nav instructions.

Sensibly, however, while many rivals have media systems that can only be used through a touchscreen, this system has a rotary controller, located down near the gearstick. This is far less distracting for the driver to use while on the move, though this may confuse passengers initially, as they’ll instinctively reach out to make adjustments. However, despite this, the Audi media system is logical to operate and you can easily control a number of the car's functions through steering wheel controls and a display between the car's dials.

If you want to control more from the wheel, look out for models with the upgraded Audi Virtual Cockpit. You can display sat-nav and music information within the driver’s digital instrument cluster and change settings quickly and easily.

The rest of the controls and features are straightforward, especially the climate control system. And you’ll be sitting comfortably, as the seat and driving position adjust every which way and the seat itself offers good support.

It’s not quite the same story in the back seats. That’s because headroom is restricted, so adults of average height will find their head is touching the roof and anyone taller will have to kink their neck to one side, so if you need to carry passengers on a regular basis, that could be an issue.

Still, high-back child seats fit without a problem, while the level of legroom is reasonable as feet fit comfortably under the chairs in front. But three people abreast the back seat will be a squeeze. An Audi A4 is significantly more spacious.

Compared with the A3 Sportback, the saloon has a larger boot. It carries 425 litres of luggage, which is 60 more than the hatchback. But if you pick a model with quattro four-wheel drive, that drops to 390 litres. The back seats split and fold 60/40, but their drop function is only accesible from inside the car itself - nothing deal breaking, just something to be aware of. Needless to say, it can’t carry as much clobber as the hatchback in this respect, because you can't load up to the roof in the boot as you can in the hatchback.

In terms of driving experience, the saloon is perhaps even better than what you get with the hatchback. Its body is stiffer, helping the car feel a fraction more precise on the road - especially the steering response - while the suspension gives stable roadholding even if the ride comfort proves slightly on the firm side and tyre noise isn’t as hushed as some might like.

In Euro NCAP crash tests, performed in 2012, the A3 hatchback - which offers fundamentally the same level of protection as the saloon in the event of a forward-facing impact - was awarded a maximum five-star rating, scoring 95% for adult protection and 87% for children. There are two ISOFIX mounting points for child seats on the outer rear seats. Do remember, however, tha the crash test procedure has become much more challenging over the last few years, so while the A3 is safe, cars that have scored five stars more recently may be significantly safer - especially when it comes to crash avoidance technology, which now contributes to car's safety scores.

Key facts

Warranty Three-years, 60,000 miles when new
Boot size 425-litres
Width 1,796mm
Length 4,458mm
Height 1,496mm
Tax From £170 to £210 in first year; £145 a year after

Best Audi A3 Saloon for...

Best for Economy – Audi A3 saloon Sport 30 TDI

With the potential for up to 65mpg, the 2.0-litre diesel is as frugal as things get in the A3 saloon range

Best for Families – Audi A3 saloon S Line 35 TDI manual

You get all the performance, frugal fuel economy and equipment you need with the S Line 35 TDI. Stick with the manual gearbox; the S tronic automatic isn’t very good with this engine and adds to the cost

Best for Performance – Audi A3 saloon Black Edition 40 TSI quattro S tronic

The 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine in the 40 TSI offers 190hp and powers this four-wheel drive model from 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds.

One to Avoid – Audi A3 saloon Black Edition 40 TDI quattro S tronic

We’d give the 184hp diesel a miss, given how well-rounded the more affordable 150hp version is, and because it only comes with quattro and S tronic, which both add substantial cost and aren't necessary unless you really need them and willing to pay a significant premium


  • June 2013 Audi A3 saloon goes on sale in UK
  • March 2014 Powerful S3 version joins the saloon range
  • April 2016 Facelift for Audi A3 saloon range

Understanding Audi A3 Saloon names

Trim S Line

This is the mid-range level, offer a sporty look and drive, but without some of the luxury kit of the Black Edition models

Engine 35 TDI

The 2.0-litre TDI is a diesel unit and the best-selling motor in the range. TDI signifies diesel, TSI indicates it’s a petrol engine. When referring to the power of the engine, this is given as 35, indicating it’s the 150hp version.

Gearbox S tronic

If no gearbox is specified, the A3 Saloon is likely to have a manual gearbox, while S tronic refers to the automatic option available on certain models

Audi A3 Saloon Engines

2.0 TSI 190 petrol; 1.6 TDI 116, 2.0 TDI 150, 2.0 TDI 184 diesel





Acceleration (0-62mph)

Top speed

30 TDI




10.4 secs


35 TDI




8.6 secs


40 TDI quattro S tronic




6.8 secs


40 TSI quattro S tronic




6.2 secs


Only one petrol-powered engine was available in later models. Called the 40 TFSI, it’s a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged engine with 190hp. If you want it, you'll have to get a top-of-the-range Black Edition model, with quattro four-wheel drive and the S tronic automatic gearbox.

It delivers brisk performance, with 0-62mph taking 6.2 seconds, and overtaking slower traffic is dealt with swiftly and safely. Plus, thanks to the four-wheel drive, its power never overwhelms the grip of the tyres. However, fuel economy is 44mpg at best.

The most affordable engine is the 1.6-litre diesel engine. This turbocharged TDI unit is no great ball of fire, but those who simply want the most affordable A3 saloon will find it’s responsive enough for most driving conditions, and can achieve up to 64mpg and emits 115g/km.

Arguably the best all-round engine in the A3 saloon range – and the most frugal - is the tried and tested 2.0-litre TDI. With 150hp and plenty of muscle low in the rev range, it gives good response in all situations. The 0-62mph dash takes 8.6 seconds, while fuel economy is 65mpg and CO2 emissions are 113g/km.

You could pick the higher-powered 2.0-litre TDI, but in a car of this size and weight there’s not a great advantage to spending the extra money to have 184hp and 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds compared with the 150hp engine, which isn't much slower in reality. Also it only comes with quattro four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox.

Audi A3 Saloon Trims

Sport, S Line and Black Edition

If you want the best value for money then the less powerful engines in Sport trim are the place to start your search for an A3 Saloon. Sport models come with dual-zone climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels, part-leather trim, cruise control, a 7.0-inch media system screen with digital radio, Bluetooth, smartphone connectivity and mirroring (Android Auto and Apple CarPlay), rear parking sensors and automatic lights and wipers.

The two other trim levels are S Line and Black Edition. S Line trim is focused on sporty looks; you get 18-inch wheels, a bodykit, LED headlights with fancy-pants LED ‘dynamic’ rear indicators, which progressively light up to point in the direction you're heading, part-leather upholstery and stainless-steel pedals. There’s also a flat-bottom steering wheel, a host of styling features inside and firmer sports suspension. Be aware that those after a more relaxing drive may have swapped out the sports suspension for the standard suspension, as this was a zero-cost option. The Black Edition offers purely cosmetic changes compared with S Line for a meaner look.

Audi A3 Saloon Reliability and warranty

New models were covered by a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty. Despite feeling a quality product when you sit in it, the Audi A3 isn’t without problems, say owners.

In the Auto Express 2018 Driver Power survey, the A3 range finished mid-table, coming 46th out of 75 cars. Just over 20% of owners reported one or more problems with their A3 in the first year of ownership.

Used Audi A3 Saloon

The A3 Saloon was available with a broad range of petrol and diesel engines, in a mix of trim levels, which means used car buyers have an extensive range of models to choose from on BuyaCar.

Initially, there were two petrol engines. The entry-level unit was a 1.4-litre with 140hp and a 1.8-litre with 180hp. The 1.4 was clever because it could shut off cylinders when cruising at a steady speed, such as on a main road, saving fuel in the process. Audi reckoned it was good for 60mpg in its day, compared with 50mpg for the 1.8-litre unit.

The diesel engine initially offered was the 2.0-litre 150hp motor, which managed up to 68mpg.

Those after more power should search out the S3. The quattro model boasted a 300hp, 2.0-litre turbocharged unit and made the saloon seriously sporty, with 0-62mph taking just 4.9 seconds.

In the summer of 2016, the 1.8-litre petrol engine was dropped in favour of a more powerful 2.0-litre TFSI unit, while an entry-level 1.6-litre diesel and high-powered 2.0-litre TDI were added. The S3 gained slightly more power, too, taking it up to 310hp.


Other Editions

A3 (2012 – 2020)

Upmarket family hatchbacks don't come much smoother, solid, or as tech-laden as the Audi A3

A3 Cabriolet (2014 – 2020)

Four seats, open-top driving thrills and an upmarket badge all at a reasonable price make the Audi A3 Cabriolet a tempting package

A3 Saloon (2020)

The Audi A3 Saloon is an upmarket compact saloon with sleek looks, efficient yet strong engines and a broad range of high-tech equipment

A3 Sportback (2020)

The Audi A3 is an upmarket hatchback with space for the family, plenty of high-tech options and a good range of punchy, efficient engines