Audi’s first notchback model in the premium compact class, the Audi A3 Sedan’s sporty character is dazzling. It all starts with a curb weight of just 1,250 kg (2,755.78 lb) for the four-door 1.4 TFSI with S tronic, thanks to Audi’s lightweight design mastery. Many of the components in the occupant cell are made of high-end hot-formed steel; the hood is aluminum. The low weight of the chassis and engines also sets new standards.
Some 4,460 mm in length (14.63 ft), the design of the Audi A3 Sedan combines classic notchback styling with the dynamics of a convertible. The flat roof line terminates at the C-pillar and merges seamlessly with the shoulder line. The tornado line is a prominent contour edge and the wheel arches are remarkably flared.
As with all Audi vehicles, the single-frame radiator grille is the primary design element up front. The bumpers, which terminate in striking horizontal contours, as well as large air inlets underscore the width of the A3 Sedan. Audi can optionally fit this new model with all-LED headlights, a marvel of engineering and a feast for the eyes alike. Taillights boasting light-emitting diodes are also available.
The roomy interior of this sporty four-door car is refined and straightforward. Its instrument panel is lean; the center console is slightly angled toward the driver. The large round air vents, the three-dimensional decorative inlays and the air conditioner’s elegant control panel evince the attention to detail that Audi devotes to every vehicle. As in all Audi models, controls are easy-to-use and self-explanatory. The 425-liter (15.01 cubic ft) luggage compartment can be extended by folding down the rear seat backs.
Three engines will initially be available for the Audi A3 Sedan: one TDI and two TFSI units. They respectively exhibit 1.4, 1.8 and 2.0 liters of displacement, and feature power outputs between 103 kW (140 hp) and 132 kW (180 hp). All three engines have been overhauled to combine robust power with astonishing fuel efficiency. A particular highlight for the 1.4 TFSI is the cylinder on demand (COD) system. At low loads, it temporarily shuts off two cylinders. Additional engines will be unveiled down the road, including a 2.0 TDI which will comply with the emission limits of the EU’s Euro 6 standard, and a 1.6 TDI.
Concerning the powertrain, the A3 Sedan is also best-in-class. Depending on the engine, a manual transmission or the S tronic is available. When combined with the Audi drive select dynamics system, the S tronic dual-clutch transmission boasts a free-wheeling function that further reduces fuel consumption. quattro permanent all-wheel drive will be made available before long.
The sporty personality of the Audi A3 Sedan can be traced in part to an optimized distribution of axle loads (59% to 41%, front to rear) and a sophisticated chassis. The MacPherson front suspension contains some aluminum components, while the four-link rear suspension handles longitudinal and lateral forces separately. A sensitive power-steering system features an electromechanical drive for high efficiency. Audi can also install progressive power steering, which varies the steering ratio. Electronic limited slip differential – an intelligent subsystem of electronic stabilization control (ESC) – makes handling even smoother and safer during fast cornering.
Upon request, Audi can fit the A3 Sedan with Audi drive select (standard with the Ambition line). It allows the driver to choose among several modes regarding engine management, power steering and the S tronic. In addition to Audi magnetic ride (electronically controlled shock absorbers), two sports suspensions are available. Wheels measure between 16 and 19 inches in diameter. 19-inch wheels are available only in conjunction with a sports suspension and Audi magnetic ride.
Audi offers its A3 Sedan customers a comprehensive range of infotainment modules; top-of-the-line options include a Bang & Olufsen sound system and MMI navigation plus. The latter’s ultra-sleek 7-inch screen extends electronically from the instrument panel. The user terminal has a turn/push control designed as a “touchwheel” with MMI touch – the touchwheel’s top surface is a touch-sensitive pad for inputting letters and numbers.
The Audi connect system ideally complements the MMI navigation plus. Audi connect will soon grant one-of-a-kind Internet access to A3 customers. Starting in November 2013, the fourth-generation (“4G”) mobile communications standard known as LTE (Long Term Evolution) will become a reality in the A3 Sedan. LTE already enables download rates as high as 100 Mbit/s in many places. This innovation demonstrates anew Audi’s superiority in automotive infotainment.
A3 Sedan passengers can use their mobile devices thanks to a WLAN hotspot integrated within Audi connect. The driver benefits from customized Internet services integral to Audi connect. Services range from navigation via Google Earth images and Google Street View through Audi online traffic information to Facebook and Twitter. A brand-new Audi connect service is the parking-space locator. This feature provides information on parking spaces, multi-level parking facilities and underground garages.
A broad assortment of assistance systems also bolsters the A3 Sedan. They range from adaptive cruise control to Audi side assist, Audi active lane assist, camera-based traffic sign recognition and the park-assist system with surround-view camera to the safety system Audi pre sense. The driver information system with rest recommendation is standard in the sporty and luxurious Ambition and Ambiente equipment lines; it is optional for the entry-level Attraction line.
Equipment lines also feature their own respective interior colors. The S line sports package for the Ambition line, for instance, bathes the interior entirely in black. Available upholstery materials include fabric covers, a mix of fabric and artificial leather, Milano leather and a combination of Pearl Nappa leather and Alcantara. Individual options such as Audi adaptive light and a panoramic glass sunroof are taken directly from the luxury class. Remarkably, the Audi plant in Györ, Hungary was expanded solely to build the A3 Sedan. This new model will be available at German dealerships late this summer. The basic price will be 24,300 euros (A3 Sedan 1.4 TFSI with 90 kW [125 hp]).
221 kW (300 hp): Audi S3 Sedan
Soon after the A3 Sedan reaches dealerships, Audi will launch its top-of-the-line version: the Audi S3 Sedan. Its 2.0 TFSI will produce 221 kW (300 hp) and 380 Nm (280.27 lb-ft) of torque. The sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) takes just 4.9 seconds with the six-speed S tronic (5.3 seconds with the manual transmission). Speed is electronically capped at 250 km/h (155.34 mph). Its four-cylinder turbocharged engine averages just 6.9 liters of fuel per 100 km with the S tronic (34.09 US mpg).
An electronically controlled, hydraulic multi-plate clutch constitutes the heart of the quattro drivetrain in the S3 Sedan. The suspension lowers the body by 25 millimeters (0.98 in). Large brakes are mounted behind the 18-inch wheels. 19-inch wheels are available in conjunction with Audi magnetic ride. Progressive steering is standard for the S3 Sedan.