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In the markets this summer, from 21,600 euros in Germany (1 of 6 >>>)
All-new Audi A3 premium compact 3-door hatchback
Lighter, larger inside with bigger luxury cars high-tech

Elie Aoun, 28 March 2012:

All-new Audi A3 premium compact 3-door hatchback: front-side view.

All-new Audi A3 premium compact 3-door hatchback: profile view.

All-new Audi A3 premium compact 3-door hatchback: rear-side view.

The all-new, third generation Audi A3 gets a longer wheelbase with the same overall body length. It comes on the heels of 2.68 million units sold from the first and second generation A3.

Sixteen years after the launch of its first generation, the Volkswagen group chose the 2012 Geneva International Motor Show (8-12 March) for the debut of the third generation premium compact Audi A3, in the 3-door body version, before other body versions follow later (including the 5-door and an expected sedan version).

With orders taking from this spring and deliveries starting this summer in Germany (from 21,600 euros for the base version which will be available in late 2012) and September in the UK (from GB£19,000, on-the-road price), the new Audi will hit the market in time with it new and much more direct competitor, the all-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class 5-door hatchback, which changed its body shape (5-door hatchback) and orientation to face more directly its traditional German rivals, the Audi A3 and the BMW 1-Series, in addition to other new premium compact (lower-medium) models such as the new Volvo V40.

The new A3 will also have other versions with hybrid and alternative drive systems such as natural gas and Audi e-gas (currently in development), in addition to a 1.6 TDI engine which will be launched also this year, with an average consumption of 3.8 litres of diesel/100 km (61.90 US mpg, 74.34 UK mpg, 26.32 km per litre), with 99 g/CO2 (159.33 g/mile).

 Generations

The first Audi A3 was launched in 1996 as a three-door model. In 1999, the five-door model and the sporty S3 were added. Four years later, the second generation followed in 2003.

At about 1.8 million units, total sales of the second-generation A3 were more than the double of the previous one (about 880,000 units).

The brand with the four rings diversified its A3 model line-up with the Sportback (2004), the S3 (2006), the Cabriolet (2008) and the RS 3 (2011).

Part of the German Volkswagen group (the largest European carmaker and the second worldwide, behind GM) which also includes the VW, Skoda, SEAT, Lamborghini, Bentley, Porsche and Bugatti brands, Audi recorded last year its best worldwide sales result of 1,302,650 units, a 19 per cent improvement over 2010.

Within this context, Audi says that over its production life to date, the A3 range has represented over a fifth of total Audi sales, which reflects the important role played by the compact model in the brand’s growth.

 Dimensions

The new A3 adopts the new MQB modular platform of the VW group. Known as the Modular Transverse Matrix, this platform can be adapted to various wheelbase, track and height dimensions for models stretching from the small to larger family and SUV models.

Compared to the second-generation A3, the new three-door version has a body length of 4,237 mm (166.8 inches) and height of 1,421 mm (55.94 inches) which are practically the same as those of the previous model. However, the wheelbase grew by 23 mm (0.9 inch), from 2,578 mm (101.5 inches) to 2,601 mm (102.4 inches).

Since the overall length remained similar, the wheelbase growth came at the expense of the front overhang which is now shorter, while the body width increased by 12 mm (0.47 inch), from 1,765 mm (69.49 inches) to 1,777 mm (69.96 inches).

 Body

Audi claims that the lightweight body and the consequently downsized engines offer secondary benefits as many other components of the chassis, the exhaust system and interior are lighter. The aluminium bonnet and wings alone save more than nine kilograms (19.8 lb) in weight.

Audi gives the A3 1.4 TFSI as an example, as it weighs 1,175 kg (2590 lb), or about 80 kg (176.4 lb) less than the previous model. The covered underbody and engine compartment also help reduce consumption and emissions.

The German specifications (equipment, options and prices differ between countries) offer three equipment lines:  Attraction, Ambition and Ambiente, with different colours and materials for each one... >>>

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