Audi A3 saloon: Three to Tango

Jan 11 2014, 17:51 IST
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Audi is preparing to launch one of its most important new cars, the new A3 saloon, this year. Audi is preparing to launch one of its most important new cars, the new A3 saloon, this year.
SummaryUnlike its German compatriots, Audi perhaps believes our market isnít ready for luxury hatches yet and that a saloon is a more attractive alternative. It could be right

Audi, as on the Q3, will also offer a six-speed manual gearbox to help give one of its models a killer price. Audiís patented quattro or four-wheel drive system is, however, not likely to make it to the A3.

Whatís it like to drive?

We drove the A3 saloon with the 1.6 TDI engine in Europe and were impressed by how refined the car was. Thereís very little noise from the engine, tyres or suspension, even at high speeds and this gives you a feeling of travelling in a large, expensive car. The car cruises happily on a light throttle, and you can even overtake quite easily when you drop a gear. In fact, performance is so good on full throttle; you can feel the front wheels fighting for grip as you accelerate. One thingís for sure, this new 1.6 TDI sure feels like a larger capacity engine. Outright performance, it must be said, isnít spectacular however. But remember, if you want more power, you can opt for either of the other two engines.

Like with most Audis, the steering also feels very light and doesnít feel very engaging. You feel a bit detached from the action initially and that can be a bit disconcerting. Soon, however, you begin to appreciate the accuracy of the steering system. It may be inert and lack feel, but it works accurately and allows you to drive the car in an effortless manner.

Also, quite amazingly, the car felt very stable in a straight line and holding onto high speeds posed no problems whatsoever.

The price you pay for all this stability, however, is stiffness and a slightly unsettled ride. The A3 thumps over poorly maintained roads and, on rough patches, a fair amount of vibrations get transferred through to the cabin. This is, however, something that will likely be improved on the Indian version as cars here get a raised and generally more pliant suspension systems due to the poor conditions of our roads.

Delivering the look and feel of a R40 lakh car for an estimated starting price of R22 lakh, the new Audi A3 looks like a winner. With no direct competition at the time of its launch, it will exist in the same price bracket as larger executive saloons like the Skoda Superb and Toyota Camry. It might not be able to offer the same amount of space, but what customers will get is a luxury

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