A complex design and sportily balanced tuning: the chassis of the Audi A3 Sedan raises the bar. It all starts with an optimized axle-load distribution, itself facilitated by the front axle also being located far forward, near the front end. The front suspension is a MacPherson design with wishbones underneath. The one-piece subframe and the pivot bearings paired with more robust engines are made of aluminum. These aluminum components collectively weigh 6 kg (13.23 lb) less than their steel counterparts. The front suspension has a track of 1,555 millimeters (61.22 in). A stabilizer bar is used for both front and rear axles.
A power steering system contributes to the Audi A3 Sedan’s excellent efficiency. Because the system’s motor is mounted directly on the steering rack, it consumes no energy during straight-ahead driving. Power-steering assistance varies in accordance with the vehicle's speed. Its ratio of 15.3:1 is sportily direct and the vehicle’s turning circle is just 10.9 meters (35.76 ft). Electromechanical steering works closely in conjunction with three assistance systems: rest recommendation, Audi active lane assist and the park assist system.
Upon request, Audi will supply electronically-assisted progressive power steering, though not for the 1.6 TDI. Thanks to a custom-toothed steering rack, steering ratios vary as per steering angle: somewhat indirect around the center and very direct when steered sharply. Progressive power steering makes maneuvering much easier and renders the vehicle’s dynamic handling even more exciting on winding roads.
As for the Audi A3 Sedan’s four-link rear suspension, its track is 1,526 mm
(60.08 in). The swordlike trailing arms absorb propulsive and braking forces efficiently. The arms’ bearings are large and exhibit a relatively soft configuration, which enhances ride comfort. Conversely, three transverse links per wheel – designed to absorb lateral forces – are rigidly joined to the steel axle carrier for enhanced handling.
The rear-axle links are made of high-strength grades of steel; the wheel carriers are aluminum. The shock absorbers and the compact coil springs are kept separate, enabling excellent responsiveness and considerable capacity for cargo. Audi offers an optional sport suspension that lowers the body by 15 millimeters (0.59 in); with the S line sports suspension, by 25 millimeters (0.98 in). This decidedly taut suspension is available by itself, or paired with 18-inch wheels as part of the S line sports package.
The A3 leaves the factory with 17-inch or 16-inch alloy wheels in the Ambition and Ambiente lines. The Attraction line is fitted with 16-inch steel wheels. Audi and quattro GmbH offer a broad range of options. The top-of-the-line option: 8 J x 19 wheels in one of three designs fitted with 235/35 tires, with either a semi-polished or machine-polished titanium finish.
The sophisticated flow-forming method is used to manufacture the 18-inch and 19-inch alloy wheels. In this process, the rim well is rolled out over a cylinder under high pressure and at high temperature, rendering the wheel very lightweight but also high-strength. All tires are distinguished by low rolling resistance and powerful performance. A tire-pressure monitoring system and a repair kit are standard; a spare wheel is optional.
Powerful brakes behind the large wheels provide a tautly sporty pedal feel for precise braking. The front discs are ventilated and, depending on the engine, are either 288 or 312 millimeters (11.34 or 12.28 in) in diameter. The rear discs measure 272 mm (10.71 in). The electromechanical parking brake is integrated within the rear-axle braking unit. If necessary, the parking brake can double as an emergency brake. An optional hold assist system maintains brake pressure for a certain time even after the driver has taken his foot off the pedal.
Even more stable and even sportier: The electronic limited slip differential
Electronic limited slip differential is standard in every Audi A3 Sedan with front-wheel drive. A component of electronic stabilization control (ESC), it makes handling even more agile, precise and stable. Upon detecting that the front inside wheel in a turn has been relieved too much, the system’s control unit gently and precisely brakes said wheel. Excess torque then flows to the outside wheel. At the same time, surplus drive traction helps the driver gently turn the car into the corner.
The optional Audi drive select system (standard with the Ambition line) packs even more emotion into driving. The basic version of this system regulates the gas pedal, power steering and the S tronic. The driver can press a button to switch among five modes: comfort, auto, dynamic, individual and efficiency. In efficiency mode, the optional deluxe climate-control system, adaptive light, Audi pre sense basic and adaptive cruise control are operated with an eye on optimized fuel efficiency. Starting with the MMI Radio package, there is also an individual mode. It allows the driver to specify, within certain constraints, his very own profile of preferred settings.
Another optional module for engines as of 110 kW (150 hp) is Audi magnetic ride, an electromagnetic shock-absorber control system. It is integrated within Audi drive select. Circulating inside the shock absorbers’ pistons is a synthetic oil containing tiny magnetic particles. When a coil applies a voltage, a magnetic field is created and the particles align perpendicular to the flow of oil, impeding its flow through the channels in the pistons. A control unit constantly analyzes road conditions and the driver’s style, in turn adjusting the shock absorbers by the millisecond.
The driver can specify one of three different modes: comfort, automatic or dynamic. In comfort mode, when oil viscosity is high, the Audi A3 Sedan offers a particularly well-balanced and comfortable ride. In dynamic mode, at low viscosity, the A3 will hug the road. Steering response becomes better still, roll movements are largely suppressed, and targeted support of individual wheels during fast cornering makes for even more dynamic self-steering. During braking, Audi magnetic ride counteracts the tendency of the body to sag, which is typically 15 mm (0.59 in) lower in the first place.
The equipment and data specified in this document refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.