Hatchbacks are king in Europe where compact saloons have struggled, particularly in the more prosperous northern markets, but Audi believes there is a niche to be opened up, and it has the ammunition to do so.
The ammunition is the new Audi A3 saloon which goes into UK showrooms at the end of this week. Product manager Rob Morris explained: “This is a car which we already sell in big numbers in the US and China so we already have the volumes. The market in Europe is not big but one which we think will open up, particularly in the premium compact segment.”
Audi says the A3 saloon is the first car of its type and size in the UK and is hoping that demand will grow quickly.
Along with the launch of the S3 Sportback the A3 range now extends to four models including the hatchback and Cabriolet. Morris added that the new model has had every panel changed.
“This is not a case of a boot just being added on, this has been specifically designed as a compact saloon with which we will challenge the traditional barriers in this segment.”
The car is 11mm wider, 146mm longer and 9mm lower.
The range starts at £24,275 and kicks off with a choice of two petrol – 1.4- and 1.8-litre – and a 2-litre diesel. A 1.6 diesel, which emits just 99g/km of CO2 will follow towards the end of the year and Quattro versions arriving from the first quarter of 2014