In 1996, Audi launched the premium compact segment with the A3 – now the third generation of the successful model is ready at the starting line. The new A3, which will debut at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, is a high-tech car full of innovations in all areas. Versions with hybrid and alternative drive systems such as natural gas and Audi e-gas are currently in development. A version with an exceptionally efficient 1.6 TDI engine will launch on the market in 2012; it consumes just 3.8 liters of diesel/100 km (61.90 US mpg), which is equivalent to 99 g/CO2 (159.33 g/mile).
Audi ultra lightweight technology has helped to trim weight in the body of the appealing three-door car – compared to the previous model, the new A3 is now 80 kg (176.37 lb) lighter. The chassis is tuned for a sporty and agile driving style. The engines are powerful yet highly efficient, the interior offers an ambience of dynamic style. In driver assistance systems and infotainment, the new A3 offers a portfolio of technologies that redefines standards in the segment.
The car’s styling visualizes the sporty character of the new A3; it gives the 4.24 meter (13.91 feet) long three-door model a powerful stance on the road. Sharp edges provide the outlines for dynamically curved sheet-metal surfaces. The overall vehicle length was kept identical to the previous model, while the wheelbase grew to 2.60 meters (8.53 feet), and the angle of the C-pillars was made low like that on a coupe. The single-frame radiator grille that is typical of Audi dominates the look of the front end. As an option, Audi can supply headlights in xenon plus technology together with LED daytime running lights; in this case, the taillights are also equipped with LEDs. Later on, full LED headlights will extend the range of features – and will be a first in the compact car segment.
Audi’s consistent application of its ultra lightweight construction principle has produced a new A3 1.4 TFSI that weighs just 1,175 kg (2,590.43 lb) – making it significantly lighter than cars of the competition. The front fender and engine hood are made of aluminum; the car body also integrates a high share of ultra high-strength and hot-formed steels.
The completely redesigned interior of the Audi A3 appeals with the horizontal lines of an instrument panel that appears to float, trendsetting quality of materials and workmanship as well as clear ergonomics. The four round air vents, elegant control panel of the standard air conditioning system and the instrument cluster are all highlights here.
The color display of the driver information system (standard on the Ambition and Ambiente equipment lines) presents graphics in highly detailed 3D images.
The electrically retractable MMI monitor – with a seven-inch diagonal in the top version – is only eleven millimeters thick (0.43 inches). The new electromechanical parking brake creates space on the console over the center tunnel for the terminal of the optional MMI operating system. In its full version – MMI navigation plus with MMI touch – the upper side of its rotary pushbutton is designed as a touchpad – another ergonomic innovation. The driver can input letters and numbers by finger motion as in the Audi full-size class.
Audi is offering the Attraction, Ambition and Ambiente equipment lines as selections on the new A3; they let the customer choose the specific vehicle character they are looking for. Designers have developed attractive colors and materials for each of the versions. Customers can choose from among many sporty and convenient options that extend up to adaptive lighting, magnetic ride suspension and a panoramic glass sunroof.
Another technical area in which the new Audi A3 is extending its leadership role is in its new high-performance driver assistance systems. They range from radar-assisted adaptive cruise control to Audi side assist, Audi active lane assist, traffic sign detection, park assist and the Audi pre sense basic safety system. None of our competitors offers a similar portfolio of such systems.
In the infotainment area too, the innovative modular architecture hosts a whole array of components. It includes the sound system from Bang & Olufsen and MMI navigation plus. They are ideally complemented by the Bluetooth online car phone with WLAN hotspot. It gives passengers access to the Internet while traveling; for the driver, there are customized online services that make up the Audi connect package. The new Audi A3 will launch with three four-cylinder engines, all of which are essentially new developments. The two TFSI engines and the TDI work with 1.4, 1.8 and 2.0 liters of displacement. Their power levels are 90 kW (122 hp), 132 kW (180 hp) and 110 kW (150 hp). Compared to the previous model, fuel economy of the new A3 was improved by about 12 percent on average – with some engines the savings are even greater.
The 1.8 TFSI operates together with a standard seven-speed S tronic; the 1.4 TFSI and 2.0 TDI are paired with a six-speed manual gearbox. In each case, engine power is always transferred to the front wheels; quattro permanent all-wheel drive – and other engines, including a 1.4 TFSI engine with innovative cylinder on demand technology from Audi – will follow over the course of the next few months.
The chassis of the new A3 combines sporty driving fun with good comfort and impressive stability. The wheel suspensions form the foundation here, and the finely tuned power steering system has a highly efficient electromechanical drive. The ESC stabilization control integrates the electronic limited slip differential – which makes handling even more fluid and safe at performance limits when driving through curves.
The optional Audi drive select system (standard on the Ambition line) lets the driver vary the operating modes of key components – such as steering, the accelerator pedal and transmission characteristics (with S tronic) – for a customizable driving experience. It also incorporates the optional adaptive shock absorbers; they utilize magnetic ride technology from Audi. Wheels range from 16 to 18 inches in diameter.
The new Audi A3 will go on sale in the spring, and first deliveries to customers will be this summer. The base price of the A3 with the entry-level engine, which will follow around the end of the year, will be 21,600 euros in Germany.
The equipment, data, and prices specified refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.