Although US customers only get the Audi A3 in five-door form with the 2.0T or 3.2 V6 engines, Europe gets a three-door, diesel engines and the high-performance S3 model.
The entire range of Audi A3 and A3 Sportback models are raising their profile this summer with a raft of technical and visual improvements. Innovative technologies in such options as the unique S tronic dual-clutch transmission with seven speeds as well as the Audi magnetic ride suspension control system create a mature handling and ride.
Its sharper, more striking exterior design lends even greater expression to the A3 family. Additional equipment such as the advanced Audi parking systems also add to the appeal of the latest models.
The Audi S3 developing 265hp now also becomes available in the five-door Sportback version.
The Audi A3 created the new premium compact car segment when the first-generation model debuted in 1996. The brand has been notably successful in that market and has since built 1.9 million units of the Audi A3. After four successive record-breaking years, the one-millionth example of the second-generation A3 - which went into production in 2003 - left the assembly line just a few days ago.
New visual details for the three-door A3 and A3 Sportback emphasize its modern profile. The hood and front fenders are more sculpted, while the bumper and large single-frame radiator grille have been updated to enhance road presence. The new headlamps incorporate a curved trim element. On S line cars, Xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights provide a distinctive optional feature. New exterior mirrors with integral indicators, new door handles and an attractive new alloy wheel range add to the side profile of the new generation A3.
To the rear, the modified bumper and new tail lights create a clean design; the A3 Sportback now has innovative fiber optic rods arranged in a flat, continuous strip that creates an impressive visual effect in the dark. In addition, the three-door A3 has a modified tailgate with a new light edge. As a result of the modifications, the A3 has grown 0.98" in length to 166.93", while the sporty proportions of the Sportback remain virtually unchanged at 168.9" in length.
Inside the car, the designers fine-tuned the premium feel. Elegant aluminum design elements on the air vents, light switches and center console accentuate the prestige character of the Audi A3 and A3 Sportback. The switches and controls beneath the audio system have been given a new look. The instrument cluster boasts black dials and red needles, and a shift indicator displays the recommended gear in any given circumstances. The driver information system displays the time, date and distance in a clear, high-resolution white font. The three-spoke leather steering wheel on the Sport and S line has new aluminum trim, with a flat-bottomed design available as an option on S line.
The upholstery range includes Alcantara/leather and Fine Nappa leather trim for the sport seats.
Split folding rear seats, as standard, offer versatile space for the A3's luggage bay which is the roomiest in its class. On quattro versions the trunk floor is slightly higher to accommodate the rear axle.
For the UK market, the new generation A3 and A3 Sportback engine range comprises seven different engines - four gasoline and three diesel versions. Five of them are pioneering four-cylinder direct injection units with turbocharging. Their abbreviations TFSI and TDI encapsulate the strengths of Audi's engine technology - performance, high torque, dynamism, refinement and efficiency.The 1.6 liter unit develops 102hp, the 1.4 TFSI 125hp, the 1.8 TFSI 160hp and the 2.0 TFSI 200hp. The 1.9 TDI delivers 105hp and the 2.0 TDI 140hp. The 2.0 TDI 170hp version will be available later. Both two-liter diesel engines have been re-engineered - a new common rail injection system now assures ultra-refined running, efficiency and excellent acoustics.
The 105hp diesel in the extremely efficient 1.9 TDI e version which, thanks to special fine-tuning measures, clocks up 52mpg. The 1.8 TFSI and the closely related 2.0 TFSI have been frictionally optimized and have new cylinder bores, pistons and oil pumps to increase efficiency.
The high-tech dual-clutch S tronic transmission, now available on most engines, changes gears with exceptional speed and smoothness. The driver can set it to operate in a fully automatic mode or change gear manually - either at the selector lever or with the standard shift paddles on the leather sport steering wheel.
The S tronic on the 2.0 TFSI and both 2.0 TDI diesel versions has six speeds, whereas the 1.6, the 1.4 TFSI and the 1.8 TFSI petrol engines feature a newly developed seven-speed S tronic. Both its clutches are dry-running - an innovative approach. This means that they do not need a separate oil supply, further adding to their already impressive efficiency. The seven gears are closely spaced for a rapid response, though the top ratio is sufficiently high-geared to reduce the engine speed, cutting fuel consumption as a result.
The quattro versions put the A3 in a different league to the other players in the premium compact class. In its latest form the central hydraulic multi-plate clutch responds even faster when the engine's power needs to be redistributed between the front and rear wheels. This increases stability, traction and driving pleasure for the driver.
The standard-fit dynamic suspension, too, provides safety, precise handling and comfort all rolled into one. The well-balanced chassis characteristics of the Audi A3 and A3 Sportback are attributable to the elaborate engineering elements such as the four-link rear suspension and the efficient electromechanical power steering. The Sport models are fitted as standard with sport suspension that supports the body 0.59" lower; in conjunction with 17" alloy wheels.
There is another new feature that puts the A3 and A3 Sportback ranges ahead of their rivals. The adaptive-action shock absorber control system called Audi magnetic ride overcomes the age-old conflict between sound handling behavior and ride comfort. The driver can choose between "Normal" and "Sport" programs by flipping a switch. A magneto-rheological fluid circulating in the shock absorbers changes its flow properties within milliseconds when a voltage is applied; this affects the damping characteristic, which can be varied from comfortably supple to crisply firm.
At the top of the latest A3 range is a second top model on the market - the S3 Sportback now joins the three-door Audi S3. Both versions are equipped with the same engine, the re-engineered 2.0 TFSI with an output of 265hp. With an increased torque output of 258 lb-ft available from 2500 to 5000rpm, the direct-injection, two-liter turbo catapults the three-door model from 0-62mph in 5.7 sec (Sportback: 5.8sec); the top speed is limited electronically to 155mph. Yet the fuel consumption of the new S3 is astonishingly low, at an average of 27.67mpg.A six-speed manual transmission efficiently handles the power from the engine to the standard quattro driveline while 18" wheels provide the appropriate traction with the road. The sport suspension holds the body 25 millimeters (0.98") lower and uses advanced, lightweight aluminum components. Black brake calipers act on 15" disk brakes.
Audi's compact premium sports model offers the exceptional responsiveness to driver inputs. It reacts spontaneously to the steering and its handling remains very stable, precise and almost neutral right up to its physical limits. When emerging form a bend, for example, traction and grip levels are remarkably high, enabling the driver to deploy the car's power very early on exit.
Like the A3, the S3 has been visually revised and is clearly distinguished by a number of updated exterior design elements, for example the radiator grille, the bumpers and the roof spoiler, as well as by the aluminum-look exterior mirrors. Inside, the driver and front passenger are greeted by supportive sports seats; Audi exclusive bucket seats are available as an option. Aluminum pedals, three different styles of inlay and a black or silver headlining create an exclusively premium look. In addition, automatic air conditioning, multi-function steering wheel and xenon plus headlamps with LED daytime running lights extend the range of standard features.