Audi will be aiming to make the most of yet another chance to boost registrations in Britain when its next new car rolls into showrooms in September.
Bosses at the German firm are convinced that a more upmarket version of their most popular model will be so successful with company car drivers that it could create a fresh niche sales area in the compact premium sector, although it seems no one has alerted them to the slightly earlier arrival of the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class.
“We have a pretty good track record when it comes to spotting opportunities for growth,” said product marketing manager Rob Morris.
“Making a saloon variant of the A3 should allow us to exploit a gap in the market that’s been overlooked so far. There’s nothing quite like it.”
“As D-sector cars continue to grow in size, more drivers are looking for alternatives in the C-sector.
“In many cases, they consider mainstream compact models and we believe a smaller, more luxurious Audi will prove to be an attractive alternative.”
Aimed at buyers aged between 30 and 40, the new car is longer and wider than the A3 Sportback but, despite using the same wheelbase, it is capable of carrying more luggage and holds 450 litres with the rear seats up and 880 litres with the backrests folded down.
Audi’s first model to be built in Hungary uses curvaceous style lines to achieve attractive and dynamic looks.
And careful attention to detail throughout the interior makes it clear that, despite being smaller than the A4 saloon, this is still premium luxury transport that comes with a spacious rear seat and quality fittings.
Now available for ordering, the car will be supplied in Sport trim as standard and boasts stop-start technology along with braking power recuperation, an electro-mechanical handbrake, dual-zone climate control, comfort sports seats, sports cloth upholstery, multi-function steering wheel, a driver information system and aluminium inlays and door sill trims.
On the road, it has a distinctly refined air as it surges away from rest, feels composed at all times, shows ample grip and control through corners and cruises in discreet fashion at high speeds.
Ride comfort is good, but a no-cost option to delete the Sport’s 15mm lower ride height is available for customers who prefer smoother progress.
The new saloon represents the first move in a plan for fresh and upgraded products that will cost €13 billion (£11bn) by 2016, when the company aims to be offering more than 42 models – a far cry from the 17-strong portfolio it was marketing back in 2001.