Audi A3 Saloon 35TFSI 150PS S line Reviewed

In Audi, Car Reviews by Tom Scanlan

You can almost take for granted that your Audi will be a handsome, well-built, well-equipped, technologically up-to-date, almost faultless vehicle.

Of course: you are paying for it to be just that. And, not to decry all Audi’s rivals in the so-called premium sector, that’s what you get. Take the A3 Saloon that we’ve had an enjoyable week driving.

Yes, ’enjoyable’ when I consider back on 360 miles in all sorts of traffic and road conditions.

However, there were occasions when, in the words of the wonderful P.G.Wodehouse’s character, Bertie Wooster, I found myself ‘if not disgruntled…far from being gruntled’.

It was all to do with the satellite navigation. If you are trying to get to a new destination, your reliance on the satnav is high. When any doubt occurs, stress levels build up.

Now, I don’t want to exaggerate, but if your map freezes, then, yes, the pulse can quicken; this happened, but at least the actual route instructions remained in the instrument cluster, so all was not lost. After a few miles, I found a place to stop where I switched the ignition off and waited a couple of minutes. Ignition on again and the map with my route reappeared. Good. But the sophisticated voice guidance system in which there are four capabilities with which to operate it in combination with the radio or other sounds output, did mystify me: for example, when selecting the guidance to silence the radio whenever the voice was speaking, what I actually got was silenced radio but no voice guidance. However, fiddling about later with the steering wheel volume controls and Audi’s MMI Control below the central console, I suddenly got mega-loud guidance and/or mega loud radio. I must not be unfair to Audi, because, as my family tells me, I appear to have an inbuilt antipathy to such technology…but I am on a mission to get technology designers to consider awkward customers like me.

Apart from that, I was intrigued on three occasions to be alerted to poor visibility. It seemed all clear to me. Later, delving deep into the owner’s manual, I discovered that the very sophisticated Audi Assist system had probably activated. A similarly-endowed Audi some way ahead notifying my Audi that it was approaching such a situation. In retrospect, I recalled 1) a dark cloud and some rain a mile up the road, 2) some spray from an HGV ahead and 3) nothing particular; but I do now appreciate the idea.

That all said (but so, I think, it should be when car manufacturers place such great importance on the ever-more-sophisticated technology into their cars and the marketing of their cars), the A3 Saloon was very much a car to be enjoyed while able to do its job so well.

From the driver’s point-of-view, the way it performed was highly satisfactory.

About the very first thing to notice about driving a car, is its steering. The way it goes into and out of corners or roundabouts can give a great sense of security and satisfaction; high marks for the A3 Saloon in this respect.

Years of Audi experience got me to select ‘comfort’ mode for the majority of the week. The ride proved to be pleasantly supple and the crucial 25 mph test over my local ‘sleeping policemen’ traffic-calmers was passed with flying colours.

Images shown are the German Spec model as rhd images are not available due to Covid 19

The engine, a mere 1498cc, 4-cylinder unit in the test car, produces 150ps. From this, zero to 62 mph is possible in 8.4 seconds and the maximum claimed speed is (a wholly un-necessary) 144 mph!

More important is that to overtake at fifty or sixty mph you shove your foot to the floor and it happens.

The WLTP combined fuel consumption figure of 47.9 mpg for the S line (it differs for other versions) is, according to the trip computer, actually less than the 52.8 mpg I got; was it helpful that I stick rigorously to speed limits…usually?

The very smooth automatic gear-box and the particularly unintrusive stop-start system contributed to the general satisfaction.

To me, the car looks very smart; aerodynamically, it’s undoubtedly efficient with a Cd of just 0.27. On the motorway, this obviously assists its quietness. This leads to the most noticeable noise being road noise. The test car was on Bridgestone tyres and I wondered if these two features, the car’s shape and those particular tyres, contributed to the sensation that, when I lifted off, the car slowed down much more slowly than any other car I have driven. A few times, I found myself applying considerably more braking pressure than usual as I approached traffic lights or a road junction.

The car’s cabin was of a smart contemporary design with the usual high quality of materials (but, my gosh, I spotted a tiny piece of seat-cushion-stuffing peeping out as I tried out passenger space in the back).

Rear space is sufficient for two adults; the seats fold forward very easily to extend the boot capacity.

Options on the test car included heated front seats and 4-way lumbar support for the front seats; good. Yes, together they’re another £590, but that, along with the extended ambient lighting pack at £110 adds to more feel-good factor…if you’re spending £32,010 altogether…well, why not?

The A3 Saloon is another impressive offering from Audi.

Car reviewed: Audi A3 Saloon 35TFSI 150PS S line, on the road price £30,295 with options as tested £32,010 0-62mph 8.2secs Top speed 139mph Engine 1495cc 4-cylinder unleaded Euro 6.2 Fuel Economy WLTP 47.1 – 62.8mpg CO2 emissions 118g/km Max Power 150PS@5000rpm Torque 250Nm@1500rpm Transmission 7-speed S tronic / dual clutch

Tom Scanlan

Motoring Journalist

Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars.
He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0.
In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.