Monday 22 January 2018

Audi's new A3 saloon to cost just under €30k

Audi's new A3 saloon
Audi's new A3 saloon
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

AUDI's new A3 compact saloon, here in September, will start at just under €30,000 on-the-road – about €1,500 less than was mooted some time back.

Audi say this is €850 more than the corresponding entry price for the five-door hatch Sportback on which it is based.

However, it has claimed that higher spec levels on the saloon mean the figures are not strictly comparable.

The saloon's entry price reveals how hard the brand is attempting to position the A3 saloon between the bigger A4 saloon (€35,320 entry price) and the five-door hatch Sportback without taking too many sales away from either. And of course trying to sell as many of the latest model as well. It's a delicate manoeuvre.

So the starting price for the 1.4-litre TFSI petrol (125bhp, six-speed, €200 road tax) nudges in at €29,950 on-the-road (OTR). The projected big seller will be the 1.6-litre TDI (105bhp, six-speed, €180 road tax) and it kicks in from €30,530.

Entry-level standard equipment will include air con, 16ins/10-spoke alloys, Bluetooth connectivity, electric windows, multifunction steering wheel, ESC (helps avert skidding), electric mirrors, cloth upholstery, Isofix child-seat fittings, MMI radio with 5.8ins pop-up screen, space-saver spare wheel.

SE spec (€1,350 extra and expected to be the most popular level) adds front fogs, rear park assist, cruise control, interior lighting pack, cloth/leather-like upholstery and an aluminium look in the cabin.

And then S-line (€3,150 over SE) adds Xenon lights with daytime running LEDs, interior/exterior S-line packages, 18ins alloys, aluminium inlays and leather/sprint cloth sport seats.

Worth noting are the hi-tech cylinder-on-demand (COD) versions. They basically shut down cylinders when the engine is cruising to help save fuel.

Saloons account for 25pc of all cars sold here – big names, of course, include the likes of the Toyota Corolla/Avensis and Ford Focus/Mondeo. Audi has made it clear it wants some of that action. It has claimed it is the only prestige marque in the compact saloon market but Mercedes have just brought in their 4dr CLA coupe and others have near-future plans to fill the void.

Audi expects its saloon will account for half the marque's current A3 sales (they sell 900 a year).

As you would expect, several elements from the A3 Sportback – which has been a major seller for them here – have been carried over.

But at 4.4 metres, this is longer (around 150mm) than the Sportback. And there is 45 litres more room in the boot – that's what saloons are supposed to offer after all isn't it?

As the saloon gets here in September, it is unlikely to pick up too many sales from the 132-registration period starting on July 1.

In effect it is an early entrant in the race to woo and win buyers when the 141-reg plate comes around from January 1 next. Will it tempt Sportback or A4 owners away or will it take sales from rivals?

We'll have to wait and see but next week I might have a better idea.

That's because I plan on bringing you my First Drive impressions on the car Audi describe as one of the most important they have introduced to date.

Irish Independent

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