Our cars: Audi A3 Saloon - September

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  • Our A3 Saloon's controls feel as precise and high quality as those in an aircraft

    Our A3 Saloon's controls feel as precise and high quality as those in an aircraft

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Audi A3 Saloon 2.0 TDI 150 Sport


Week ending: September 29
Mileage: 11,136
Miles driven this week: 80


Read the full Audi A3 Saloon review


Our A3’s still proving a pleasure to run, so I’m not going to hold against it the fact it left me temporarily stranded this week.

It was on an extremely wet morning, too. Sprinting to our parked A3, as always, anxious to get to the What Car? HQ on time, I opened the door, climbed down into the handsome interior (it is an admirably low car), started the engine and drove off. Only to stop about 10 yards down the road.

The leisurely take off and accompanying flap-flap-flap noise alerted me that something was clearly wrong, something like a very flat rear tyre. So now I had to climb out into the torrid downpour (very heavy by this stage) to inspect the damage and indeed confirm my suspicion.

The A3 has a space-saver spare, but I must admit due to the tempest raging violently over my head, I wasn’t in the mood to change the wheel myself. One quick call to Audi Assist and an AA van arrived within the hour. A very nice chap called Mark (of course he would be!) replaced the wheel for me, and I was on my way to work.

Then it was merely a matter of taking the car at lunchtime to our local tyre specialist to repair the original tyre, it having picked up a screw at some stage. Ten minutes there and all was once again right with, if not the world, at least with our A3.

By Mark Pearson
Mark.Pearson@whatcar.com



Week ending: September 21
Mileage: 11056
Miles driven this week: 1810


I decided the A3 Saloon would be the perfect car to take on my honeymoon, and it didn’t disappoint. I’ve racked up a massive 3100 miles in our long-termer over the past couple of weeks, driving through France, Italy and Switzerland, and it’s proved a near-perfect continental cruiser.

For starters, it was incredibly comfortable on the motorway, with a supple yet brilliantly controlled high-speed ride. It was also very refined; its engine stayed smooth and quiet even when cruising at 130kph (just over 80mph), and there was hardly any wind noise. I know from driving the car in the UK that road noise can be a problem, but even that wasn’t much of an issue on the smoother roads in Europe.

Possibly most impressive, though, was just how frugal the A3 was throughout the trip. It averaged just more than 56mpg, mainly on fast motorways, but the trip also including plenty of challenging, hilly sections, including the Amalfi Coast.

By Will Nightingale
Will.Nightingale@whatcar.com



Week ending: September 15
Mileage: 7605
Miles driven this week: 255

Flushed by the success of our recent Cornwall adventure, I decided to use the Audi for a weekend trip to Suffolk, a 120-mile journey from our home in Surrey. That it crunched up the miles on the M25 and A12 with ease came as no surprise. That we had to sit motionless on that same A12 for over an hour while an accident was cleared from the road in front of us did come as more of a surprise, however.

At least the interior of the A3 is a reasonable place in which to waste time. We were placated by the radio, and kept comfortable by good climate control and supportive leather seats. The excellent build quality and thoughtful ergonomics of this car’s stylish interior all make favourable impressions, too.

Only the sat-nav’s desire to direct us down single-track country lanes in the hopes of putting us on the shortest route began to annoy, as did the occasional hiccup in programming in a destination. I also had some difficulty dialling numbers from scratch on the keypad function of the otherwise good Bluetooth system: entering the initial zero seeming to direct me to my phonebook list, for reasons I couldn’t work out. Not ideal when trying to warn of our late arrival.

However, as with our Cornwall journey, our handsome Audi impressed. It averaged more than 50mpg (which is more than I get from my regular long-termer, a 1.5-litre Qashqai), cruised well when the roads allowed, kept driver and passengers comfortable, and had enough space for our luggage. An executive given one of these could certainly count himself a lucky man.

By Mark Pearson
Mark.Pearson@whatcar.com



Week ending: September 8
Mileage: 7390
Miles driven this week: 560


Last week I was slowly falling in love with this little Audi. In a few miles of urban pottering the only criticism I had was poor rear-seat legroom.

So I decided to give it a proper thrashing by taking it on a family holiday to Cornwall. It might have easily handled a hop around the block, but could it cope with an odyssey from Esher to Falmouth and back?

Any fears we had about size were soon dismissed. Pearsons do not travel light, but all we wanted went into the reasonable boot and, by putting the smallest of us behind the longest, all were just about comfortable in that nicely furnished and well-equipped interior.

Our 262-mile journey to Cornwall was pretty quick, too, despite which our fuel consumption was mostly more than 50mpg (traffic near Truro pulled this back to 49.6mpg; on the return run we recorded 53.6mpg).

My inability to use a sat-nav properly might account for some of the difficulties I had in entering destinations, and possibly for some of the odd detours I was offered while it hunted for the shortest route, but otherwise everything worked as it should.

Indeed this smart and compact Audi took all we threw at it. It carried us to beaches and tourist spots, and easily dealt with twisty lanes and holiday traffic. It was let down by only two things: a slight gruffness to the engine at low speeds and some excessive road noise at high speeds, the latter in particular marring the car’s otherwise excellent cruising capabilities.

By Mark Pearson
Mark.Pearson@whatcar.com



Week ending: September 1
Mileage: 6720
Miles driven this week: 100


Although I’ve always admired the latest Audi A3, I’ve never actually liked it that much.

However, after a short drive in our A3 Saloon, I’ve fallen in love, and I have a feeling the reason is no more than skin deep – where I find the hatchback and Sportback unbearably plain, I think the A3 Saloon positively handsome.

All the dynamic qualities are much the same. The interior’s a tactile and visual delight, the driving position’s good, everything feels beautifully made and logically thought out.

I’m not normally a fan of diesel engines, either, but this one’s good. Strong and relatively smooth, with a power delivery like a petrol engine. It’s economical, too.

The steering’s light and direct, the pedals are well weighted, the clickety-clack gearbox is a delight to use. The handling’s predictable, and there’s a good, if firm, ride. You can even alter and tailor the driving modes to your own tastes too, from Efficiency to Dynamic.

However, just when I was getting carried away by this low-slung devil, common sense came to slap me in the face: this admirably compact saloon is noticeably lacking in interior space.

It is possible to install a slim 10-year old behind a six-foot driver, but only just, and adults wouldn’t stand a chance. Compact executives might love it, but does this rule the A3 out as a family car? To find out I thought I’d give it a longer run. More on that next week.

By Mark Pearson
Mark.Pearson@whatcar.com

Our cars: Audi A3 Saloon - August

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