The Audi A3 and A3 Sportback are the sporty models in the compact segment. The upscale equipment and trim underscores their elegant style. Audi optionally equips its two premium compact models with highly developed technologies such as the S tronic dual-clutch transmission, the Audi magnetic ride suspension system and quattro permanent all-wheel drive. All of the engines combine powerful and sporty performance with low fuel consumption. The Audi A3 1.6 TDI sets efficiency standards with CO2 emissions as low as 99 grams per km (159.33 g/mile).
Body and interior
The sporty elegance of the three-door Audi A3 and the five-door A3 Sportback is already evident in the design. The optional xenon plus headlights are combined with LED daytime running lights. The single-frame grille element and the trims on the B-posts are painted in high-gloss black, the lower air inlets have chrome struts and there are chrome strips in the door handles (except on the S3). All versions of the Audi A3 have a diffuser insert with a distinctive spoiler lip in the rear. Light guide rods in the in the tail lights of the A3 Sportback form a distinctive contour; the three-door model features tinted tail lights.
Sporty elegance infuses the interior of the Audi A3, as well. The instruments feature faces backed in gray, and a flat-bottomed, leather sport steering wheel is available as an option. The air vents are framed in black rings while the optional navigation system sports a high-gloss bezel. There are gleaming aluminum-look trim inserts on the center console, mirror adjuster switch and window lifter buttons. In models equipped with a manual transmission, a shift indicator in the driver information system (standard beginning with the Ambition trim line) complements the operating concept. The front-wheel-drive A3 provides a generous 350 to 1,080 liters (12.36 to 38.14 cu ft) of trunk capacity, with the front-wheel-drive Audi A3 Sportback offering even more: 370 to 1,100 liters (13.07 to 38.85 cu ft).
There are eight powerplants in the broad engine lineup for the Audi A3 and the A3 Sportback - four gasoline and four diesel units. All are cutting-edge four-cylinder units featuring turbocharging and direct injection and badged as TFSI and TDI. They offer all the qualities of Audi engine technology - efficiency, refinement, power and high torque.
Audi uses a recuperation system and a start-stop system with five of the eight engines. The start-stop system, which works with both the manual and the S tronic dual-clutch transmissions, deactivates the engine when the car is at rest and restarts it when the clutch is engaged or the brakes are released. The recuperation systems is standard with all engines.
The entry-level gasoline engine is the 1.2 TFSI; it exemplifies the merits of Audi's downsizing strategy - the substitution of turbocharging for displacement. The four-cylinder unit develops 77 kW (105 hp) and a hefty 175 Nm of torque (129.07 lb-ft) from its small displacement of 1,197 cc, yet averages just 5.5 liters of fuel per 100 km (42.77 US mpg). The most powerful spark ignition engine for the Audi A3 and A3 Sportback is the 2.0 TFSI with an output of 147 kW (200 hp).
The TDI range extends from the 1.6 TDI developing 66 kW (90 hp) to the 2.0 TDI, with an output of 125 kW (170 hp). The most efficient engine in the lineup is the 1.6-liter TDI with 77 kW (105 hp). It is available in a variety of different versions, the most economical of which averages 3.8 liters of fuel per 100 km (61.90 US mpg) in a three-door Audi A3. In-detail modifications to the body and chassis contribute towards this excellent figure, which equates to CO2 emissions of just 99 grams per km (159.33 g/mile).
1.2 TFSI with 77 kW (105 hp)
The transmission of power to all four wheels likewise underscores the exceptional position that the Audi A3 enjoys in the premium compact class. Audi supplies quattro permanent all-wheel drive for four engine versions. Its electronically controlled multi-plate clutch, mounted on the rear axle in the interest of weight distribution, sends most of the engine's power to the front wheels under normal driving conditions. If need be, it diverts torque quickly and flexibly to the rear wheels.
The chassis of the Audi A3 model series combines a sporty character with supreme safety and a high level of comfort. Its precision and poise stem from elaborate solutions such as a four-link rear suspension, which handles longitudinal and transverse forces independently, and the electromechanical power steering, which is as responsive as it is efficient.
On all versions with front-wheel drive, the ESP electronic stabilization program incorporates an electronic differential lock. This intelligent software solution uses small, barely detectable brake applications to manage how torque is distributed among the wheels when at the cornering limit to prevent understeer, improve traction and further enhance driving safety.
For engines developing 103 kW (140 hp) and upwards, Audi supplies the adaptive damper control system Audi magnetic ride, which exploits the properties of an electromagnetic fluid. The dampers can be set for a comfortable or sporty characteristic. Within these parameters, the system adjusts the damping forces in milliseconds depending on road conditions and the driver's style. The body is lowered by 15 millimeters (0.59 in).
A conventional sport suspension and the decidedly taut S line sport suspension from quattro GmbH are also available. Wheels are available in sizes up to 18 inches - another offer from quattro GmbH.
Equipment and trim
The extensive range of high-end options demonstrates the high technological standard of the Audi A3 model series. These include the adaptive light dynamic cornering light system for the xenon plus headlights, the high-beam assistant and the navigation system plus with MMI operating logic. It calculates routes particularly fast, has a higher resolution monitor and features three-dimensional map graphics.
The parking assistant is another very attractive feature. When driving at slow speeds (up to 30 km/h, 18.64 miles) its ultrasound sensors scan the parking spaces parallel with the road; when it detects one that is large enough to reverse into, it then indicates this in the instrument cluster. All the driver need do is engage reverse and operate the accelerator, clutch and brakes - the car maneuvers independently and precisely into the space.