Audi’s brand new A3, which will make its first public appearance at the 82nd Geneva Motor Show, seems to be following the Porsche 911's lead. Just like the 991, at a first glance, it doesn't look radically different from its predecessor, yet it is a completely new design with different proportions.
In much the same way, the third generation of Ingolstadt’s premium three-door hatchback looks familiar, but is actually an all-new design inside and out.
The hexagonal single-frame grille, large air intakes and the headlights with a wave-shaped lower edge and Audi’s signature LED daytime running lights create a familiar look that is instantly recognizable.
Audi claims that the low angle of the C-pillar and the sloping roof give the three-door A3 a coupe-like look that is emphasized by the large wheel arches, the flared metal surfaces and the diffuser insert on the rear bumper.
The 2013 A3 is the first VW Group model to use the brand-new modular MQB platform, which is flexible enough to underpin many different models. Weight reduction has been a prime objective during the car’s development. The hood and fenders are made of aluminum saving more than 9 kg (19.84 lb), and the chassis uses form-hardened and hot-formed steel for the underbody, the A- and B-pillars and the roof arch, and high- and ultra-high-strength steel in other parts of the body.
“The right material in the right place” guideline has resulted in the A3 1.4 TFSI weighing 1,175 kg (2,590 lb) – which is 80 kg (176.37 lb) less than its predecessor and a relaticely low figure for the class.
Inside, Audi promises the high-quality soft materials that we have come to expect from the company in all of its models. The dashboard brings to mind that of the smaller A1, with a sportier and more detailed instrument binnacle and a driver-oriented center console that features an optional folding touch screen and the MMI multimedia system.
According to the company, the rear seat can accommodate three adults and the boot has a capacity of 365 lt (12.89 cubic feet).
At launch, the new A3 will be available with two gasoline and one diesel engine.
The 1.4 TFSI produces 120hp (122PS) and 200Nm (147.5 lb-ft) of torque at just 1,500 rpm. It accelerates from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 9.3 seconds and attains a top speed of 203 km/h (126 mph), while consuming only 5.2 lt/100 km (45.2 US mpg) and emitting 120 g/km of CO2.
The most potent version is motivated by the 178hp (180PS), 250Nm (184.4 lb-ft) 1.8-liter TFSI. Its 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time is 7.2 seconds and it reaches a top speed of 232 km/h (144 mph), yet its average fuel consumption and CO2 emissions at 5.6 lt/100 km (42.0 US mpg) and 130 g/km respectively are only slightly higher than the 1.4-liter unit.
Those hell-bent on low fuel consumption will almost certainly choose the frugal 2.0-liter TDI engine. It boasts a combined figure of just 4.1 lt/100 km (57.37 US mpg) and 106 g/km of CO2, yet with a 8.6-second 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) sprint and a 216 km/h (134 mph) top speed it is no slouch.
The 1.4 TFSI and 2.0 TDI engines will initially be available with a six-speed manual gearbox and the 1.8 TFSI will be equipped with a seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic as standard.
In all versions, power is transmitted to the front wheels with the ESC electronic stability control system including an electronic differential function. Audi has already announced that four-wheel drive quattro versions, as well as more powertrains, will late be added to the A3’s range later on.
Like the previous model, the new A3 features a McPhershon front and multi-link rear suspension. It also has an optional (standard on the Ambition equipment level) drive select control system with five modes: comfort, auto, dynamic, individual and efficiency. Those alter the accelerator pedal, power steering and S tronic transmission settings at the touch of a button, according to the driver’s preferences.
Optionally, the drive select control system can incorporate the Audi magnetic ride suspension, which can alter the damping forces in mere milliseconds according to the selected mode and the road surface condition.
The new A3’s safety equipment includes features like the adaptive cruise control (AAC) which operates at speeds up to 150 km (93 mph) and with the optional assistance package, 200 km/h (124 mph). If it detects an imminent collision, the AAC warns the driver and, if necessary, activates the brakes.
Other systems are the Audi side assist, which monitors side traffic by means of a radar and helps the driver during lane changes, the active lane assist system that makes a slight steering correction if deemed necessary, and a traffic signal detection system that shows speed signs on the MMI screen.