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.
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 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 A3's progressive formal language visualizes all of the passion with which Audi engineers produces automobiles. The defining element at the front is the very sculptural single-frame radiator grille with its six corners; the engine hood 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. As an option, Audi can deliver xenon plus units; the LED bands that form the daytime running lights make the A3 unmistakable - especially at night.
Styling at the rear with the spoiler edge above the diffuser emphasizes the width of the new premium compact. The split taillights - in LED technology when equipped with xenon plus headlights - show a variation on the inner architecture of the front headlights. The trunk lid 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.
13 paint colors are available, and an optional high-gloss package offers visual highlights. The S line exterior package with its distinctive accents will appeal to sport-oriented customers in particular.
Ultra lightweight construction has long been a success formula and a hallmark of the Audi brand. By no means is it limited to a specific material; instead, the motto is: "The right material in the right place for optimal function." True to this maxim, engineers developed a multi-material body for the new A3.
The body of the Audi A3 exhibits other strengths. It has a high degree of impact safety; it is rigid and acoustically comfortable; a sound-insulating windshield is standard equipment, and numerous other measures were taken to reduce interior noise in the new A3, even at high speeds.
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.
The high-end impression conveyed by the interior of the new A3 was created by the capable hands of Audi designers who selected its colors and materials, and it is a reflection of the Audi's stringent quality standards. The interior layout is different for the different equipment lines - Attraction is the modern, Ambition the sporty and Ambiente the luxurious variant.
Audi delivers the interior in the quiet colors black and titanium gray; as an alternative, fresh accents are created by pashmina beige, chestnut brown and capri orange. There are optional seat covers in different qualities of leather and a leather/Alcantara variant. The S line sport package offers many exclusive details and a black look throughout the interior. The Audi design selection capri orange opens up a new, highly contemporary color world.
The rear seating area of the new Audi A3 offers space for three persons, and easy entry is a standard convenience feature. The newly developed front seats offer excellent support and contours; their low mounting positions emphasize the sporty character of the three-door car. The driver takes a seat behind a new steering wheel design that has three or four spokes, depending on the equipment line, and shift paddles; multifunction keys are available as an option.
Fine details highlight the interior. The four large, round air vents in jet design are classic elements, and they serve a secondary innovative function: Simply by pulling the nozzle 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.
The new type of molded decorative panels on the contoured front of the instrument panel and in the doors can be delivered in aluminum as an option.
Intuitively simple user interfaces - this is one of Audi's competence domains. All of the buttons, switches and controls are positioned precisely where one expects them. The display of the driver information system (in color on the Ambition and Ambiente lines) positioned between the two large round instruments shows all key information, some in richly detailed 3D graphics - which generates a fascinating effect.
The trunk of the new Audi A3 offers a basic capacity of 365 liters (12.89 cubic feet); cargo capacity grows to 1,100 liters (38.85 cubic feet) when the split rear seatbacks are folded. The cargo floor can be placed on two levels - either for maximum volume or alternatively as a level cargo floor. As an option, Audi can supply a load-through hatch with ski sack, a reversible mat and a storage package for the interior and the trunk.
In all equipment lines, the new Audi A3 offers a standard air conditioning system with manual control, height adjustable front seats, on-board computer with efficiency program and a full package of safety restraint systems; the seven airbags include a knee airbag for the driver. In the A3 Ambition, standard features include front fog lights and highly adjustable sport seats.
Audi also offers many attractive extras. They include the LED interior lighting package (standard in the Ambiente), a panoramic glass sunroof, sport seats, heated seats, convenience key for keyless vehicle access, deluxe automatic air conditioning with economy mode, auxiliary heating and adaptive light for the xenon plus headlights, which can be supplemented with variable headlight range control.
At its launch, Audi is offering one TDI and two TFSI engines for the new A3; these three four-cylinder engines were developed from the ground up. They bundle many efficiency technologies - direct injection, turbocharging, innovative thermal management and the start-stop system. The engine downsizing concept - reducing displacement by supercharging - stands for high power with low fuel consumption. Compared to the previous model, fuel consumption has been reduced by an average value of about 12 percent.
The 1.4 TFSI, with its 1,395 cc engine displacement, produces 90 kW (122 hp) of power and 200 Nm (147.51 lb-ft) of torque; the latter is already available from 1,500 rpm. This engine accelerates the A3 from zero to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 9.3 seconds and up to a top speed of 203 km/h (126.14 mph). Its combined fuel consumption is a mere 5.2 liters per 100 km (45.23 US mpg), equivalent to CO2 emissions of 120 grams per km (193.12 g/mile).
The 1.8 TFSI - with an engine displacement of 1,798 cc - produces 132 kW (180 hp) and outputs 250 Nm (184.39 lb-ft) 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 utilizes a very elaborate thermal management system to quickly heat the engine after a cold start. Its key performance data: zero to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 7.2 seconds, top speed 232 km/h (144.16 mph), combined fuel consumption of 5.6 liters per 100 km (42.00 US mpg), equivalent to 130 g CO2 per km (209.21 g/mile).
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 110 kW (150 hp) and 320 Nm (236.02 lb-ft), this diesel delivers tremendous power.
The A3 2.0 TDI sprints from a standstill to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 8.6 seconds and reaches a top speed of 216 km/h (134.22 mph). In combined mode, it only requires 4.1 liters per 100 km (57.37 US mpg) - equivalent to CO2 emissions of 106 g per km (170.59 g/mile).
Audi will be extending the engine line-up of the A3 model series step by step. A dynamic S model and other highly efficient and low-emissions versions are planned, including a CNG version for operation with natural gas or Audi e-gas.
A version with the especially efficient 1.6 TDI engine will debut in 2012; it consumes just 3.8 liters diesel/100 km (61.90 US mpg), equivalent to 99 g/CO2 (159.33 g/mile). There are no limitations whatsoever on the range of features for this highly efficient version; this A3 is a fully-fledged Audi as well.
At the A3 market launch, Audi will pair the 1.4 TFSI and 2.0 TDI with a six-speed manual transmission. In the 1.8 TFSI, the seven-speed S tronic is standard; the highly efficient dual-clutch transmission integrates a freewheeling function in conjunction with Audi drive select. All of these transmissions transfer power to the front wheels; the quattro permanent all-wheel drive will follow over the course of the year. Its centerpiece is a hydraulic multi-plate clutch. If necessary, it can variably distribute power between the front and rear wheels - lightning-fast and according to the momentary driving situation.
Source: Audi press