The new A3, which celebrates its premiere at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, presents the combined technological expertise of Audi in compact format.
The new Audi A3 was designed with succinct lines, and its dimensions are compact. Its length of 4,237 mm and height of 1,421 mm are practically the same as the previous model, but its wheelbase has grown by 23 mm to 2,601 mm. Its front overhang is now shorter, and its width has increased by 12 mm to 1,777 mm. The defining element at the front of the car is the very sculptural single-frame radiator grille with its six corners; the bonnet continues its lines. Large air intakes at the front reflect the power of the engines.
The headlights are flat and integrate a wave-shaped lower edge. Xenon plus units are either standard or optional depending on version; the LED bands that form the daytime running lights make the A3 unmistakable – especially at night. On the sides of the body, the sharply delineated tornado line – another classic element of Audi design – gives structure to the area below the windows. Above the side sills, this dynamic line rises sharply upward. Dynamically flared metal surfaces and large wheel arches lend a powerful appearance to the new A3. The gently sloping C-pillars and the roof that sweeps back into a modest spoiler convey the sporty look of a coupe.
Styling at the rear with the spoiler edge above the diffuser emphasises the width of the new premium compact. The split tail lights – featuring LED technology where xenon plus headlights are fitted – show a variation on the inner architecture of the front headlights. The tailgate has a sculpted, three-dimensional look. The new A3 sports either one or two tailpipes on the left side in its diffuser insert, depending on the engine type. Aerodynamic refinements, including a covered underbody and engine compartment, result in a low Cd value of 0.31.
The sporty-progressive lines of the exterior are also reflected in the interior of the new A3. As in large Audi models, the cockpit wraps around the driver in a curve. The instrument panel is slender and level; it appears to hover above the visually lightweight centre console that is angled towards the driver. It is finished in more traditional black or titanium grey, but will also be available in bolder colours such as pashmina beige, chestnut brown and capri orange. There are upholstery options in different qualities of leather and a leather/Alcantara variant.
The rear seats offer space for three passengers, and easy entry is a standard convenience feature. The newly developed front seats offer support and comfort; their low mounting positions emphasise the sporty character of the three-door car. The driver takes a seat behind a new steering wheel design with three or four spokes and multi-function controls, plus shift paddles where automatic transmission is fitted.
The four large, round air vents inspired by jet turbines are worthy of a special mention. By pulling the nozzle at the centre of each vent along its axis, the air stream can be adjusted from draft-free wide dispersion to a directed stream of ventilation air. The air conditioning control panel has a fascia in Piano finish black.
Simple but effective user interfaces characterise the cabin. All of the buttons, switches and controls are positioned intuitively. The Driver’s Information System positioned between the two large round instruments shows all key information, some with richly detailed 3D graphics. The load area of the new Audi A3 offers a basic capacity of 365 litres; luggage room grows to 1,100 litres when the split rear seatbacks are folded. The load floor can be set at two different levels – either for maximum volume or alternatively as a level cargo floor. A load-through hatch with ski bag, a reversible mat and a storage package for the interior and the load area are available as options.
Numerous options are also available in the passenger compartment, including the LED interior lighting package, a panoramic glass sunroof, sports seats, heated seats, advanced key keyless access, deluxe electronic climate control with economy mode and adaptive light for the xenon plus headlights, which can be supplemented with variable headlight range control.
At launch, the new A3 will be available with one TDI and two TFSI engines, all of which incorporate many efficiency technologies – direct injection, turbocharging, innovative thermal management and the start-stop system. All three units are ‘downsized’ in the interest of efficiency but deliver performance and response worthy of a larger capacity engine thanks to advanced turbo charging. The benefit of this concept can be seen in fuel economy improvements averaging 12 per cent.
The 1.4-litre TFSI, with its 1,395 cc engine displacement, produces 122PS of power and 200 Nm of torque, the latter available from 1,500 rpm. This engine powers the A3 from rest to 62mph in 9.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 126mph. Its combined fuel economy is an impressive 54.3mpg, equivalent to CO2 emissions of 120 grams per km. The 1.8-litre TFSI – with an engine displacement of 1,798 cc – produces 180PS and delivers 250 Nm of torque between 1,250 and 5,000 rpm. It combines direct injection with supplemental injection into the induction pipe, varies the valve stroke based on load using the Audi valvelift system and utilises a very elaborate thermal management system to quickly heat the engine after a cold start. It enables the A3 to complete the sprint from rest to 62mph in 7.2 seconds, to reach a 144mph top speed and to achieve a combined economy figure of 50.4mpg, equivalent to 130 g CO2 per km. The 2.0 TDI with 1,968 cc engine displacement also offers a high-performance thermal management system. Its two balancer shafts were relocated from the oil pan to the crankcase, which clearly improved smooth engine running. Producing 143PS and 320 Nm of torque, this diesel delivers tremendous punch.