Audi's sizzling S3 saloon takes the fight to Mercedes' CLA 45 AMG in the battle of the fast four-doors
Fast four-door saloons have been a staple of Audi’s model line-up for decades, but this is the first time the A3 has been given the trademark go-faster treatment.
By packaging a muscular 296bhp turbocharged engine and quattro all-wheel-drive system into the handsome A3 Saloon body, Audi has created the S3 Saloon – a car that aims to blend scorching performance and agile handling with sharp-suited style and plenty of premium kerb appeal. And
at around £33,000, it looks like decent value, too.
However, Audi isn’t the only German brand that offers a hot version of its smallest saloon, because Mercedes has treated its sleek CLA to a muscular makeover courtesy of in-house tuning division AMG.
Featuring a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine that boasts a dizzying 355bhp, as well as the company’s grippy 4MATIC all-wheel-drive transmission, the CLA 45 has all the right ingredients to take the fight to its S3 Saloon rival.
• Audi S3 Saloon review
• Mercedes CLA 45 AMG review
This exotic specification comes at a price, though, because the Mercedes will set you back by almost a hefty £42,000. So which of our heavy-hitting duo will land the knock-out punch in this encounter?
1st place: Audi S3 Saloon
The Audi S3 Saloon is fast, composed and agile, plus it has a classy cabin and decent practicality. Better still, it can switch from sports saloon to cosseting compact exec at the flick of a switch. Factor in the £10,000 saving over the Merc, and the Audi is a worthy winner.
2nd place: Mercedes CLA 45 AMG
When it comes to style and excitement, the rakish and raucous Mercedes CLA has the upper hand over the Audi S3. It’s also blisteringly quick and has incredibly sure-footed handling. Yet it’s not as comfortable as the Audi, while the hefty price tag and running costs are hard to ignore.