The new Audi A3 Sportback is long and lean. While the length (4,310 millimeters [14.14 ft]), width (1,780 millimeters [5.84 ft]) and height (1,425 millimeters [4.68 ft]) are only slightly greater than on the previous model, the wheelbase now measures 2,636 millimeters (8.65 ft), an increase of 58 millimeters (2.28 in). This makes the five-door model 35 millimeters (1.38 in) longer between the axles than the three-door version.
The design with the three side windows is taut and concentrated, with every detail precise and expressive. The distinguishing element at the front of the vehicle is the distinctive, stone gray single-frame grille with the angled upper corners. The lower edges of the flat headlights taper off at an angle. Audi offers optional xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lights, with LED headlights to follow somewhat later. Large air intakes up front hint at the power of the engines.
The sharply defined tornado line articulates the flank below the windows and evokes a powerful shoulder. The dynamic line above the side sills runs upward toward the rear.
The tautly curved surfaces, the large, precisely defined wheel wells, the relatively narrow, sharply sloping C pillars and the understated roof spoiler underscore the sporty nature of the A3 Sportback, as do the exterior mirrors, which as with a sports car are perched on the doors.
The rear is extremely sculptured, and the split rear lights underscore its width. Audi offers LED rear lights in combination with the xenon plus headlights; LED light conductors appear to form a continuous arch. The adaptive brake light, which pulses at high frequency during hard braking, is standard. A sharp crease sets off the diffuser. Depending on the engine, the exhaust system terminates in one or two tailpipes on the left side of the car.
Audi offers the A3 Sportback in a choice of 13 colors – three solid finishes, eight metallic finishes and two pearl-effect finishes. The optional high-gloss package adds accents around the windows (standard with the Ambiente trim line). Particularly sporty customers can choose the S line sport package or S line exterior package.
Ultra lightweight body
The Audi ultra lightweight design principle has long been a sturdy pillar for the brand. It reduces the weight of the new A3 Sportback by as much as 90 kilograms (198.42 lb) compared with the previous version. Equipped with the 1.4 TFSI engine, the five-door model has a curb weight (without driver) of just 1,205 kilograms (2,656.57 lb). Audi, the worldwide pioneer in lightweight construction, has once again reversed the weight spiral and set a new record.
High-end components of hot-shaped steel in the occupant cell form a strong, yet lightweight structure. They comprise a large portion of the body and are a major factor behind the weight savings of 37 kilograms (81.57 lb) in the occupant cell. High- and ultra-high-strength steels are used in many other areas. The engine hood, the fenders, the profile behind the front bumper and the subframe for the front axle are made of aluminum. Together they save roughly 12 kilograms (26.46 lb) and thus improve axle load distribution.
The body of the Audi A3 Sportback is extremely stiff and quiet, as components such as a noise-insulating windshield reduce interior noise levels. Thanks to extensive fine-tuning that also included the engine compartment and the underbody, the coefficient of drag is just 0.30. Passive safety is also top-notch. In the event of a collision with a pedestrian, a pyrotechnic element at the back of the engine hood raises it several centimeters to cushion the impact.
The interior of the new A3 Sportback is marked by an elegant, clean and light design. Lines and surfaces are sinuously taut. A long arch runs below the windshield in the style of the large Audi models. The instrument panel with its curved front is lean and low. It and the center console, which is angled slightly toward the driver, appear to hover, evoking a sense of freedom behind the wheel.
The intuitively clean ergonomics are a classic Audi strength. The MMI operating system with the power-retractable monitor is available with the MMI radio and above. Its terminal is located on the console of the center tunnel, which is flanked by high knee pads. A button for the electromechanical parking brake replaces the handbrake lever – another solution from the Audi full-size class.
The driver seats at an elegant steering wheel. Depending on the version, it has three or four spokes, a flat-bottomed rim, multifunction buttons and shift paddles. The large dial instruments can be easily read at a glance. The newly developed front seats offer outstanding body guidance and support. Sport seats are available as an option (standard with Ambition).
Thanks to the 58 millimeters (2.28 in) by which the wheelbase has grown, the A3 Sportback offers ample rear seat space and easy access for three adults. The A3 Sportback also offers several millimeters more head and leg room than its predecessor.
The interior of the new A3 Sportback conveys the luxurious look and feel of the full-size class. The sculpted inlays are just one of the highlights. Audi offers a choice of Aluminum Mistral or the 3D-design “Optic” inlays (standard with Ambiente) as options. This top-of-the-line version is manufactured in a complex process to produce a glass-like appearance with intense depth.
The four large, round air nozzles in a jet design are additional examples of the aesthetics of technology. The stream of air can be adjusted between a diffuse and a targeted flow by tapping and pulling on the center axis.
The control unit for the optional deluxe automatic air conditioning is mounted on a black, piano-finish fascia. The instrument cluster fascia is also black. Many control elements are optionally available in an aluminum-look finish, and the interior lighting package (standard with Ambiente) includes subtle LED lights.
The colors in the interior are matched to the trim line. In the A3 Sportback Attraction, the interior is black or titanium gray; the interior of the sporty Ambition line is either all black or black with additional silver, blue or yellow contrasting elements. The two-color Audi design selection capri orange, an exclusive suggestion of the Audi designers, provides access to the world of youthful colors. The colors pashmina beige and chestnut brown are available with the luxurious Ambiente trim line.
The materials provide for further differentiation. Cloth seats are standard with the Attraction and Ambition lines; Ambiente comes standard with a mix of cloth and synthetic leather. Options include Milano leather or a combination of Pearl Nappa leather and Alcantara. The Milano leather sport seats are covered with soft Velvet leather in the shoulder region.
The S line sport package, which is available for the A3 Sportback Ambition, completely immerses the interior in black. The sport seats are covered with a combination of Biathlon cloth and leather. Accents are provided by silver seams and piping on the floor mats, while the inlays are made of matt brushed aluminum or high-gloss 3D-design black. A shift lever with perforated leather and a special leather sport steering wheel round out the package.
The luggage compartment offers 380 liters (13.42 cu ft) of space in the basic configuration. The capacity expands to 1,220 liters (43.08 cu ft) with the seats folded down. The cargo floor is flat. The opening between the wheel wells measures 100 centimeters (39.37 in). The cargo floor can be inserted on two levels, and the supports on which it rests are marked with small LED lights. The rear seat can be folded down in a 60:40 split or as a whole. Hooks for bags and tie-down rings are standard. Options include a reversible mat, a storage and luggage compartment package, a pass-through opening and a ski and snowboard bag.
Audi is initially offering the new A3 Sportback with a choice of one TDI and two TFSI engines. Two diesel engines and one gasoline unit will follow somewhat later. They combine multiple efficiency technologies – direct injection, turbocharging, innovative thermal management and the start-stop system. Fuel consumption has been reduced on average by around 10 percent compared with the previous model.
The 1.6 TDI is the most efficient engine in the model lineup. The compact diesel, which is characterized by minimal internal friction, consumes on average just 3.8 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (61.90 US mpg) when paired with the manual transmission. This corresponds to CO2 emissions of 99 g/km (159.33 g/mile). The 1.6-liter engine accelerates the Audi A3 Sportback from zero to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 10.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 194 km/h (120.55 mph).
The newly developed 2.0 TDI, with balance shafts that now rotate in the crankcase, is available in two versions. Performance data for the front-wheel-drive A3 Sportback equipped with the 110 kW (150 hp) engine producing 320 Nm (236.02 lb-ft) are 8.4 seconds for the sprint from zero to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) and a top speed of 213 km/h (132.55 mph). Average fuel consumption is just 4.2 liters per 100 km (56.00 mph), corresponding to CO2 emissions of 108 grams per kilometer (173.89 g/mile).
The more powerful version of the 2.0 TDI offers 135 kW (184 hp) and 380 Nm (280.27 lb-ft) of torque. The key data (with manual transmission and front-wheel drive): zero to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 7.4 seconds, top speed of 232 km/h (144.16 mph), average fuel consumption of 4.3 liters per 100 km (54.70 US mpg) and 111 grams CO2 per km (178.61 g/mile).
Following somewhat later is the 1.2 TFSI, which with its aluminum crankcase is rigorously designed for low weight and minimal friction. It produces 77 kW (105 hp) and 175 Nm (129.07 lb-ft) of torque. Together with S tronic, it accelerates the A3 Sportback from zero to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 10.7 seconds and reaches a top speed of 193 km/h (119.92 mph). Average fuel consumption is just 4.9 liters per 100 km (48.00 US mpg), corresponding to CO2 emissions of 114 grams per km (183.47 g/mile).
The new 1.4 TFSI in the A3 Sportback, which now also features an aluminum block, weighs just 107 kilograms (235.89 lb) – 21 kilograms (46.30 lb) less than its predecessor. It produces 90 kW (122 hp) and 200 Nm (147.51 lb-ft) of torque, accelerating the A3 Sportback from zero to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 9.3 seconds on its way to a top speed of 203 km/h (126.14 mph). Its average fuel consumption is 5.3 liters of fuel per 100 km (44.38 US mpg), which corresponds to 123 grams of CO2/km (197.95 g/mile).
A second version of the 1.4 TFSI to follow somewhat later produces 103 kW (140 hp) and 250 Nm (184.39 lb-ft) of torque. It features the innovative cylinder on demand (COD) system, which deactivates the second and third cylinders at low to intermediate loads and while coasting.
The powerful 1.4-liter engine’s average fuel consumption is thus 4.7 liters of fuel per 100 km (50.05 US mpg); CO2 emissions are just 110 grams per km (177.03 g/mile). Performance is sporty, with a time of 8.4 seconds for the standard sprint (with manual transmission) and a top speed of 213 km/h (132.35 mph).
The new 1.8 TFSI, the most powerful gasoline engine in the lineup, produces 132 kW (180 hp) and 250 Nm (184.39 lb-ft) of torque. It combines FSI direct injection with indirect injection and uses the Audi valvelift system to vary valve lift as required. The exhaust manifold is integrated into the cylinder head – a similar solution is also used in the two smaller TFSI engines. Key performance data with S tronic and front-wheel drive: from zero to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 7.3 seconds, top speed of 232 km/h (144.16 mph) and average fuel consumption of 5.6 liters per 100 km (42.00 US mpg) corresponding to 130 grams CO2 per km (209.21 g/mile).
Audi will quickly expand the range of engines for the A3 Sportback. It includes a dynamic S model and additional high-efficiency, low-emissions variants. Set to debut in 2013 is an 81-kW (110-hp) TCNG engine for operation with Audi e-gas, a fuel that Audi produces itself in sustainable manner. In the holistic well-to-wheel analysis, the CO2 emissions of the A3 Sportback TCNG are below 30 g/km (48.28 g/mile). The A3 Sportback e-tron with a powerful plug-in hybrid drive will follow in 2014.
All engines in the new Audi A3 Sportback are paired with a manual six-speed transmission. S tronic is available as an option with all engines. Depending on the version, the dual-clutch transmission shifts extremely quickly and nearly imperceptibly through six or seven gears.
The driver can operate S tronic via the selector lever or with the optional paddles on the steering wheel. Revs are somewhat higher in the automatic S mode, whereas D mode prioritizes taller gear ratios. When combined with Audi drive select (standard in the A3 Ambition), S tronic includes a free-wheeling function in efficiency mode that further reduces fuel consumption.
With engines producing up to 103 kW (140 hp), the power is delivered to the front wheels. quattro permanent all-wheel drive featuring a newly developed multi-plate clutch is available as an option for the 1.8 TFSI and 2.0 TDI.
The hydraulically actuated and electronically controlled component, which can send the power from the front to the rear axle in just a few milliseconds, weighs significantly less than the previous unit.
The chassis of the new Audi A3 Sportback is balanced, harmonious and sporty thanks to the finely balanced distribution of axle loads. The front axle has been shifted forward by 40 millimeters (1.57 in) compared with the previous model, shortening the overhang correspondingly. All of the engines are installed tilted backward by 12 degrees with the exhaust end facing the bulkhead. This concept is an element of the modular transverse platform (MQB).
The front axle of the Audi A3 Sportback is a McPherson construction with wishbones and lightweight aluminum pivot bearings. It is mounted on an aluminum subframe. Mounted on a steel subframe, the four-link rear suspension handles longitudinal and transverse forces independently. The springs and dampers are mounted separately. The two sport suspensions available lower the body by 15 or 25 millimeters (0.59 or 0.98 in), respectively.
The electromechanical power steering with a direct steering ratio of 15.3:1 is sensitive and highly efficient. Its drive unit consumes no energy while driving straight ahead – a key contribution to overall efficiency. The steering works closely together with a variety of assistance systems, including Audi active lane assist and the parking assistant. The turning circle measures just 10.9 meters (35.76 ft).
Depending on the trim line, the new Audi A3 Sportback rolls on 16 or 17-inch wheels, with attractively designed wheels up to 18 inches in diameter available as options.
Powerful brakes provide the stopping power; the front discs are internally vented. The ESC electronic stabilization control includes the electronic limited slip differential, which helps the driver when cornering. If a wheel on one of the axles spins, the electronic limited slip differential brakes it slightly, causing the car to turn slightly into the corner. The electromechanical parking brake can be supplemented with a hill hold assist function.
Audi drive select (standard with Ambition) makes driving the new A3 Sportback an even more versatile and inspiring experience. The driver decides with the push of a button whether the accelerator, the power steering and the optional S tronic operate in comfort, automatic, dynamic, individual or efficiency mode.
In the latter mode, the optional deluxe automatic air conditioning, adaptive light and adaptive cruise control also operate in a mode targeted to optimize fuel consumption.
Another optional technology controlled via Audi drive select is the electromagnetic damper control system Audi magnetic ride. The system offers a comfortable and a sporty characteristic. Its control unit continuously adjusts the damping forces in milliseconds depending on road conditions and the driver’s style. The body sits 15 millimeters (0.59 in) lower with this system.
The new Audi A3 Sportback presents a groundbreaking innovation in mobile communications electronics – the modular infotainment platform (MIB). The concept behind it enables very fast innovation cycles in development.
The central computer of the new MMI includes the MMX board (MMX: Multi-Media eXtension). One of the plug-in module’s key components is the fast T-20 graphics process from market leader Nvidia’s Tegra 2 series. The chip, which generates complex 3D images, is used in all online, voice control, media, navigation and telephone functions.
The high-resolution monitor of the MMI operating system measures either 5.8 or 7 inches in diagonal and extends automatically from the instrument panel. Just 11 millimeters (0.43 in) thick, its lightweight magnesium housing is finished in high-gloss black for an elegant, premium appearance.
Audi is also presenting important innovations for the control terminal on the center tunnel console. The permanent toggle switches – the hard keys – for navigation, telephone, radio and media have been rearranged. With the top-of-the-line MMI navigation plus, the large rotary pushbutton with MMI touch – a solution from Audi’s full-size models – has been consolidated into a touch wheel. The touch-sensitive field, on which drivers can enter letters and numbers with their fingers, forms the surface of the control wheel.
The new Audi A3 Sportback comes standard with the Audi radio. The next level up, the MMI radio, includes the control terminal and the power-retractable 5.8-inch monitor. This can be supplemented with the optional connectivity package, which includes the Audi music interface for the integration of a mobile player, a Bluetooth interface and navigation system preparation.
If the customer later buys an SD card with navigation data or chooses the navigation package from the very beginning, the MMI radio becomes a navigation system.
The top version is the MMI navigation plus with MMI touch – a media center with 60 GB of storage capacity, DVD drive and whole-word voice control. The high-resolution 7-inch monitor displays the map with detailed 3D graphics. Mobile phones and players can be paired with MMI navigation plus through the integrated Bluetooth interface.
A number of attractive modules round out the range, including a module for digital audio broadcasting and the Audi Phone Box for easily connecting the mobile phone to the vehicle antenna. The optional Bang & Olufsen sound system, whose 705-watt, 5.1-channel amplifier drives 14 speakers, is available in addition to the Audi Sound System. LED light guides illuminate the fames of the woofers in the front doors.
The term Audi connect refers to all technologies that connect the driver of an Audi to the car, the Internet, the infrastructure, and other vehicles. The hardware component is the Bluetooth online car phone, which is called Audi connect in the new A3 Sportback.
The Bluetooth online car phone, an extension of MMI navigation plus, connects to the Internet via UMTS. The integrated WLAN hotspot allows passengers to freely surf and send e-mails on up to eight mobile devices. The system delivers tailored Internet services for the driver, from navigation with images from Google Earth and Google POI search to Audi traffic information online and the smartphone app Audi music stream. News and information services round out the range.
Audi connect also integrates apps into the infotainment system that deliver the online community services Facebook and Twitter in a form specially adapted for in-vehicle use. Joining the text-to-speech function is a practical text function: Prepared text modules can be combined with data such as the current position of the vehicle, for example, to keep the driver’s friends informed of the driver’s location, if desired.
A new service from Audi connect is Picturebook Navigation. The driver stores photos of destinations linked with navigation data in a “picture book” on a server. These can be the driver’s own photos or images from Google Earth or the online community.
The driver can then use the images to put together a route. This service is particularly attractive for vacations.
Driver assistance systems
The new Audi A3 Sportback also uses advanced technologies for the driver assistance systems. The most important of these is Audi adaptive cruise control. At speeds up to 150 km/h (93.21 mph), the radar-based cruise control keeps the car at an interval defined by the driver from the car ahead. With the assistance package, which combines multiple systems, the system is active at speeds up to 200 km/h (124.27 mph). In combination with S tronic, ACC offers a stop & go function for low speeds.
Additional systems round out the lineup. Audi side assist monitors lane changes with rear-facing radar, and Audi active lane assist helps drivers remain in their lane by slightly correcting the electromechanical steering, if necessary. The latter system’s video camera is also used for the traffic sign recognition system, which displays speed limits and other signs. The driver information system with rest recommendation detects when the driver is getting tired and issues a warning.
Several systems are available to make parking easier; the top of the line is the park assist system with 360° display. It takes over steering from the driver when parking in both parallel and perpendicular spaces, maneuvering multiple times, if necessary. Its twelve ultrasonic sensors detect obstacles all round the vehicle. The park assist system can be supplemented with a reversing camera.
Another high-end option is the safety system Audi pre sense basic. If the A3 Sportback begins to skid, it tenses the front seat belts electrically, and the windows and sunroof begin to close. The additional function pre sense front is integrated into the adaptive cruise control. In the event of a pending rear-end collision with the vehicle ahead, it warns the driver in stages and initiates precise and partial braking, if necessary.
At speeds below 30 km/h (18.64 mph), Audi pre sense front brakes the A3 Sportback in an emergency with nearly full power. If a collision occurs nevertheless, a new subsystem is activated: the multicollision brake assistant. It ensures that the vehicle does not continue to roll uncontrolled.
Audi is launching the new A3 Sportback with a generous array of standard features. The package of restraint systems, which also includes a knee airbag for the driver, can be supplemented with side airbags in the back. The comprehensive list of standard equipment includes such features as a manual air conditioner and a tire pressure indicator.
The driver information system with color display is standard with the Ambition and Ambiente lines. Besides the rest recommendation function, it also includes the efficiency program with gear-change indicator.
The A3 Sportback Ambition also includes sport seats, a sport suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels and the Audi drive select system. Ambiente includes cruise control, an LED interior lighting package and a rear parking system. Individual options directly from the luxury class are available in all trim lines for further customization. These include the panoramic glass roof, the convenience key and auxiliary heating.
The new Audi A3 Sportback can be optionally equipped with xenon plus headlights with integrated LED daytime running lights. These form a narrow, visually homogenous contour of light at the top and inside edges, like an eyebrow. If xenon plus headlights are fitted, the rear lights also use LED technology. Light guides fed by LEDs light up in flat, uniform arcs; the turn signal lights close the contour as a strip on the upper edge. The adaptive brake light, which pulses during hard braking, is standard.
The xenon-based Audi adaptive light swivels into curves. It is also linked to the navigation system and can be upgraded with special lighting functions of urban, interurban and highway driving, as well as for intersections and tourist attractions. When combined with the front-facing camera, the light-dark boundary of the headlights is automatically and steplessly adjusted for substantially improved visibility and safety.
A true first in the premium compact class are the optional LED headlights, which previously have only been available in large-size vehicles. The low beams are generated in two free-form reflectors with a total of nine high-performance LED chips. Ten high-performance LEDs in the matt aluminum trim provide the high beams.
Depending on the features chosen, the high beams are switched on automatically and LED cornering lights illuminate tight corners. Interurban, highway and tourist attraction lighting round out the lighting convenience functions. The all-weather lights enhance safety in fog or snow.
Interior accents are provided by illumination of the interior door controls, the footwell and the cup holder, as well as an ambient light from the roof module that shines on the center console. The touch wheel of the MMI navigation plus is also illuminated via a light guide.
The new Audi A3 Sportback will begin appearing in German dealerships in February 2013. The 1.2 TFSI will be available somewhat later for a base price of €22,500. Its sporty, functional and comfortable character will appeal to a broad public. In many cases it will be purchased as a second car. The second-largest target group, however, is single-car households and singles up to the age of 39, many of them women.