- Audi A3, 2013
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.
Audi's consistent application of its ultra lightweight construction principle has produced a new A3 1.4 TFSI that weighs just 1,175 kg (2,590.43 lb) - making it significantly lighter than cars of the competition. The front fender and engine hood are made of aluminum; the car body also integrates a high share of ultra high-strength and hot-formed steels.
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 color display of the driver information system (standard on the Ambition and Ambiente equipment lines) presents graphics in highly detailed 3D images.
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 new Audi A3 will go on sale in the spring, and first deliveries to customers will be this summer. The base price of the A3 with the entry-level engine, which will follow around the end of the year, will be 21,600 euros in Germany.
The new Audi A3 was designed with succinct lines, and its dimensions are compact. Its length of 4,237 mm (13.90 feet) and height of 1,421 mm (4.66 feet) are practically the same as on the previous model. And yet its proportions are sportier: The car's wheelbase grew by 23 mm (0.91 inches) to 2,601 mm (8.53 feet). Its front overhang is now shorter, and its width increased by 12 mm (0.47 inches) to 1,777 mm (5.83 feet).
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.
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 Audi A3. The low angles of the slender 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 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.
The Audi ultra lightweight construction principle
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.
Components made of form-hardened and hot-formed steels form a strong structure in the underbody area, A- and B-pillars and the roof arch. In many other body areas, high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel grades are used. The engine hood and fenders are made of aluminum, which saves over nine kilograms (19.84 lb) in weight.
The lightweight body and downsizing engines produce large secondary effects in the overall vehicle; many components of the chassis, the exhaust system and interior have reduced weights. The A3 1.4 TFSI weighs just 1,175 kg (2,590.43 lb) - which is 80 kg (176.37 lb) less than the previous model and sets an impressive standard in the premium compact class.
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.
Aerodynamic refinements, including a covered underbody and engine compartment, result in a low Cd value of 0.31.
Interior and equipment
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.
The new Audi A3 arrive at dealers in Germany starting in summer 2012. The entry-level version, which will follow around the end of 2012, is listed at a price of 21,600 euros.