What is it?
The only diesel-powered version of Audi’s new A3 saloon to accompany the car at launch. The new car represents Audi’s first foray into the compact executive saloon sector, with the A3 aimed particularly at the Chinese market.
Rivalling Volvo’s S60 D4 R-design and Mercedes’ CLA, the A3 faces an uphill battle to prove itself against established models, but starts strong, beating its rivals with a CO2 output of just 107g/km compared to the Mercedes’ 117g/km.
While the 2.0-TDI is more geared towards performance than economy, the car still has green credentials, rivalling the entry-level 1.4-litre TFSI petrol version’s impressive 60.1mpg on a combined cycle with 67.3mpg.
The A3 saloon is both wider and longer than the A3 Sportback on which it is based, and also offers more load space.
What’s it like?
In a word, refined. The A3 saloon feels like it goes naturally with this choice of engine. Power is very forthcoming, and the A3 feels much more alive than it does with the standard 1.4-litre petrol unit. Between 1750 and 3000rpm there’s plenty of power on offer, beyond that the diesel engine seems to run out of puff.
At launch the 2.0 TDI will get a six-speed manual gearbox, which unfortunately wasn’t available to test. Instead the model driven here was fitted with Audi’s S tronic automatic option which will follow later.
The gearbox coped well in almost every situation, as you’d expect given the well-proven DSG unit’s extensive history. As with other A3 models steering is light and precise, but lacks any real feeling from the road. We did notice some noise intrusion when motorway cruising, too.
Those are small concerns, though, and overall this diesel A3 is very good. It feels planted thanks to a firm suspension setup, and Audi’s drive-selection programme – which allows the driver to choose from comfort, dynamic, efficiency and several other modes mid-drive – helps to keep the A3 performing appropriately in any situation.
Should I buy one?
Considering the 2.0-litre TDI is tipped to be the cream of Audi’s A3 saloon crop, it needs to perform well – and it does.
With 148bhp on tap it never feels particularly short on power, while the engine’s substantial torque ensures relatively effortless mid-range acceleration.
The diesel unit is quiet, but feels lively when you need it to be, offering a pleasing blend of refinement and performance – and that’s what the A3 saloon is all about.
Audi A3 saloon 2.0 TDI Sport
Price £25,755; Top speed 137mph; 0-62mph 8.7sec; Economy 67.3mpg; CO2 107g/km; Kerb weight 1390kg; Engine type 1968cc, 4 cyls, turbocharged diesel; Power 148bhp at 3500-4000rpm; Torque 236lb ft at 1750-3000rpm; Gearbox 7-spd automatic

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