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When one of the top-selling company cars in the UK gets updated, it's big news, even if to the naked eye, you'd struggle to notice any real difference.
That's the case with the revised Audi A3, changes are very subtle indeed. There's some new, sleeker lights which include xenon technology as standard, the grille design has been tweaked and inside the cabin a couple of buttons have been removed from the command system and more connectivity tech is installed, that's pretty much it for the big changes.
Advanced engine technology
Stealing most of the headlines, though, is the introduction of a new 1-litre petrol engine, the smallest ever to be available in the A3 range. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to test it on this occasion and instead opted for the (still relatively new) 1.4-litre petrol with cylinder-on-demand technology. This clever engine shuts down two of its four cylinders automatically when it doesn't need them, like in traffic situations, thus saving fuel and reducing emissions.
There's 148hp and 250Nm of torque on offer, enabling the car to sprint from 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds and it's smooth and refined to drive, with plenty of pulling power available low down the rev range.
Ride quality impresses too, despite the lowered sporty suspension fitted as standard on our test car, and the well-weighted steering offers enough feedback to feel engaged when behind the wheel.
Mated to the engine is the firms six-speed automatic - called S-Tronic - and gear changes are smooth and relaxed.
Like with most Audis, you've got a choice of driving modes via the Audi Drive Select system, which makes small modifications to the steering and throttle response to suit.
The A3 is Audi's biggest range and, according to the firm, you've got a choice of 127 different engine and trim combinations available.
Although Sportback and hatchback bodystyles take the lionshare of sales here in the UK, the saloons coupe-esque styling and bigger boot will appeal to many, especially those who are looking for a break from the hatchback norm but are unable to move up to bigger cars, like the A4.
You've got two trims to choose from; Sport and S-Line, here we're testing the latter and there's a whole host of kit offered as standard for the £27,880 P11D price. The highlights include LED headlights, part-leather sports seats, sat-nav and the latest connectivity software.
Cruise control is now standard across the A3 range too and S Line cars also get an interior lighting pack that includes illuminated cup holders and additional lighting on the door handles and in the footwells. The excellent Audi Virtual Cockpit, seen elsewhere in the TT and A5, is also now available as an option in the A3.
Boot space is 45 litres bigger than the Sportback version at 425 litres, although there's less rear headroom in the saloon due to the cars lower roofline. Interior quality is excellent throughout and the simple yet sophisticated centre console is easy to navigate around.
Strong residual values
There aren't many traditional rivals for the A3 Saloon; instead it goes up against coupe-styled cars like the Mercedes-Benz CLA and BMW 2-series. Residual values closely match its rivals at 39.45%, verses the BMW's 40.19% and the CLA's 38.05%.
Running costs better the comparable BMW and Mercedes models though, despite the Audi's engine being the most powerful of the three. The CLA 180 emits 124g/km and achieves 52.3mpg on the combined cycle, while the 218i emits 129g/km and has a combined figure of 51.4mpg. Even with the optional 19-inch alloys on our test car it has an official fuel economy of 56.5mpg and CO2 emissions of just 113g/km - impressive stuff.
Thanks to these strong figures, the A3 saloons whole-life costs are 57.13p, marginally better than the BMW and a significant improvement over the Mercedes' 61.01p.
Audi A3 Saloon 1.4 CoD S Line
Model price range: £24,235-£31,275
Residual value: 39.45%
Service, maintenance and repair: £2314
Vehicle Excise Duty: £60
National insurance: £2424
Cost per mile: 57.13
Fuel consumption: 56.5mpg
CO2 (BIK band): 113g/km (19%)
BIK 20/40% per month: £88/£177
Boot space: 425 litres
Engine size/power: 1395cc/148hp
The Audi A3 has long been a popular company car choice and these latest revisions, however small, only help strengthen its appeal. New tech like the Virtual Cockpit and enhancements to the standard specification stand-out and the 1.4-litre CoD engine offers some of the best petrol running costs around with virtually no compromise on performance.
Strong whole-life costs
Smooth petrol engine, saloon styling, additional practicality over hatchback and Sportback siblings