Audi A3 Saloon S Line or the Entry level 2.0l TDI? That is the question.


When the Audi A3 saloon was first introduced to the Irish market I have to say that I was very much impressed by what was on offer. This is a great looking machine which did itself justice in comparison with the long standing and well-established hatchback. Head-on you could look at this machine and you would be forgiven for thinking it was the hatchback, but look at it from the side and you see how well Audi did in turning this machine into a saloon model.

A3 Saloon S Line

A3 Saloon S Line

Although I am sure some people will disagree with me here, and I definitely don’t mean it as an insult, but this to me, in terms of style, is like a smaller version of the A4. It really looks good and it is compacted very well. I’ve been in many A4s and I have to say that even in terms of comfort, head room, legroom, etc, the A3 saloon competes very well with its bigger brother too.

This week we’re looking at the A3 saloon S Line. We’ve had the 2.0 TDI 150hp model before, so outside of some extra styling we expect a lot from this 1.6 litre TDI engine machine. In terms of style, there’s little doubt about it, the more aggressive tweaks on the S Line make it all the more attractive, but in terms of power and drive enjoyment I have to say my meeting with the 2.0l TDI  A3 saloon wins out. The 2.0 litre TDI is so much more fun to drive, and for an entry model it’ll cost you about €3,000 less too.

From the front

From the front

The 2.0 litre TDI offers you 150 bhp, a fuel economy of 4.1 litres per 100km (on paper), costs €190 a year to tax and will set you back €32,970 at entry level, €34,700 for the SE package, or if you want both substance and style the S Line package of this engine will cost you €37,470.

2.0l TDI - 150 bhp - just as nice, and more fun too!

2.0l TDI – 150 bhp – just as nice, and more fun too!

The 1.6 TDI will set you back €35,450, the fuel economy on paper is 3.8l per 100km and it’ll cost you €180 per annum in road tax. On doing my sums I’d rather pay less for the SE model of the 2.0l engine. It’s more fun to drive and despite it not having the S Line front and rear bumpers, badges, interior and exterior, it is still a very nice looking machine. If you do have the money and want the style then find and extra €2,000 and go for the S Line 2.0l model!

Strong lines of the S Line

Strong lines of the S Line

I’m not really giving out about the 1.6l S Line here, but it is a type of car that can talk the talk in terms of style, but I have to ask why would one pay more money for an extra bit of body kit instead of going for the less kitted-out car which can truly walk the walk?

All of the A3 saloons I have driven have impressed me in terms of drive. They corner very nicely, the steering is about as clean as you can get, their gears are immaculate and all of the engines I have driven are truly wonderful. The 1.6 TDI engine is proving itself to be very useful under all of the bonnets (Skoda, SEAT and Volkswagen) it graces.

Whatever you decide to go for in terms of the A3 saloon I can say that you will be pleased. If I had to pick out a niggly bit I would say that the only thing that didn’t suit me in these cars was head-height. If you lower the seat though this isn’t a problem – my problem is that I like to sit high in a car.

Read our Audi Saloon 2.0l TDI review here:

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About Author

Daragh Ó Tuama

Daragh is Contributing Editor and founder of Past and present motoring ventures include presenting MotorMouth on Newstalk 106-108FM and MPH on TG4. Daragh was also editor for Car Buyers Guide and contributor for He set up the motors section on and can be heard regularly on Rónán Beo @3 on Raidió na Gaeltachta. He’s a regular contributor to The Sunday World’s Motor Mouth pages and he also regularly contributes motoring content for the Irish language online magazine,

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