Top speed 0-100kph Price
atop the centre console, making for a clear and tidy layout. It has a wide range of infotainment components including MMI navigation plus, a 7in monitor and a Bang & Olufsen sound system.
The 6 packs more horses than the Audi and thanks to its relatively light 1,400kg weight and stiffer front strut and rear multi-link suspension, it feels robust on the move. Its 2.5-litre Skyactiv fourcylinder produces 185bhp and 250Nm of torque but does that translate to a better driving experience compared to a slightly weaker-by-5bhp A3? Not really. They both get off the line eagerly with the A3 hitting 100kph in 7.3 seconds but its electronic limited slip differential makes it more agile and stable.
The 1.8-litre four-pot TFSI has the same amount of torque as the 6 and chugs back just 5.6 litres per 100km, making it more economical too. The quattro will have 280Nm and a vice-like grip, but the front-wheel-drive A3 handles itself very well. Dimensionally smaller than the 6, it tucks into corners a tad better, but both suffer from excessively light steering. Things improve marginally when in Dynamic mode and the slick seven-speed S-Tronic is worked harder. No paddle shifters though; the Mazda’s got them and they add a bit of fun to the drive.
But there’s really no doubt that the A3 saloon is going to be the first choice on the list of many firsttime buyers – particularly those on a budget. You can now add Audi to the list of names when hunting for a bargain and, though the Mazda 6 runs it close, with a starting price of Dh92,000, the A3 is a steal.
2.5-litre four-cyl Transmission Six-speed auto, FWD Max power 185bhp @ 5,700rpm Max torque 250Nm @ 3,250rpm NA NA Dh115,000 (as tested) Highs Fabulous design, smooth ride, comfortable Lows Rear legroom Model A3 saloon Engine 1.8-litre four-cyl Transmission Seven-speed auto, FWD Max power 180bhp @ 5,100rpm Max torque 250Nm @ 1,250rpm 235kph 7.3 seconds Dh132,100 (as tested) Highs Neat interior, peppy ride, handling Lows Optional extras are costly, and will be marginally pricier to maintain