Audi has strong hopes of continuing to lead the field in the premium A segment with its all-new A3. This third generation model promises class-leading refinement with an efficient engine line-up. Since its first introduction in 1996 Audi has sold over 2.8 million units worldwide, it was first launched as a three-door and since then a number of variants have been introduced including the five-door, sportback and cabriolet models. The new Audi A3 is now on sale, with first deliveries in Ireland due this September, initially as a three-door hatch with a four-door saloon to follow in 2013. From launch there will be three petrol and two diesel engines to choose from. The entry-level 1.2-litre TFSI petrol version offers 105hp and is priced from €25,900. The 1.4-litre TFSI petrol model produces 122hp and 200Nm of torque and is priced from €26,600. Thanks to weight saving measures used in the engine’s design through the use of a new aluminium crankcase, Audi has managed to reduce the weight of this engine by 15 kilograms over its predecessor. If you’re after more power the €30,400 1.8-litre TFSI has plenty on offer with 180hp and 250Nm of torque. The diesel line-up consists of a 1.6-litre TDI with 105hp that’s priced from €28,350, it benefits from CO2 emissions of just 99g/km. Topping the diesel engine line-up is a 2.0-litre TDI offering 150hp and 108g/km of CO2 emissions, prices commence from €29,000 for this model.
Having driven three versions of this new A3 recently, across mountainous Majorcan roads my choice pick is the 1.4 TFSI for those who desire a petrol-powered car. For the diesel advocates I’d opt for the 2.0-litre TDI model, whilst the 1.6-litre TDI is an extremely economical engine offering 3.8l/100km and Band A tax placement, the 2.0-litre TDI also benefits from Band A placement and offers a very respectable 4.2l/100km. Its extra power and more importantly increased torque results in a smoother drive, especially at lower revs. The 1.6-litre TDI is fine once on the move but you do need to drop a gear for inclines or when your revs drop slightly.
The exterior styling of the new A3 has been reworked to include weight saving measures through the use of Aluminium and hot-formed steel in the car’s construction. This along with engine and interior weight reductions results in this new model being 80 kilograms lighter than its predecessor. The interior is unmistakably Audi, it exudes class and refinement. Audi’s latest MMI (Multi Media Interface) is clear and intuitive to operate. There’s a host of safety systems available on the new A3, most notable are the Park assist with reversing camera, Adaptive cruise control with automatic full brake application and Audi side assist which alerts the driver of a vehicle in their blindspot. The new A3 is available across three grades with the entry-level edition coming adequately equipped with items such as Bluetooth, air conditioning, 16” alloys and a 5.8” electrically retractable colour screen all included. There’s just a €1,000 premium to upgrade to the SE specification which includes cruise control, electric heated mirrors, part leather upholstery and front fog lights. The S Line grade completes the line-up and comes liberally equipped with Xenon headlights, 17” alloys, leather Alcantara sports seats, aluminium inlays and an exterior styling package.
Further introductions to the A3 range will commence in 2013 with the launch of a 1.4-litre TFSI complete with cylinder on demand technology and a plug-in hybrid model in 2014.