Emotional design, superior dynamics and the proverbial Audi quality: the Audi A3 is the premium athlete in the compact class. Powerful four and six-cylinder engines delivering up to 184 kW/250 bhp, quattro permanent four-wheel drive and the S tronic dual-clutch gearbox (depending on version) together with the elaborate suspension design ensure a level of sportiness that sets standards.
The three-door version is accompanied by the five-door A3 Sportback; it appeals to those customers looking for a symbiosis of excellent dynamics and generous spaciousness together with maximum suitability for everyday use. The Audi A3 Sportback has all the athleticism of its three-door counterpart but, in addition to the two rear doors, offers more space and versatility thanks to its longer body, which has been extended by a good 7 centimetres to 4.29 metres.
Concept and design
The styling of the Audi A3 Sportback differs in that it has a slightly longer overhang at the rear. Its C-posts are somewhat more upright than those on the three-door model; the optional roof rails, blending harmoniously into the contour, highlight its versatile nature. Rear passengers in the Audi A3 Sportback enjoy extra headroom compared with the three-door version and the wide opening angle of the doors allows easy access. There is also more space for luggage.
Sportiness, elegance and impeccable craftsmanship characterise the interior of the Audi A3 – an interior which demonstrates that a perfect ergonomic design can produce outstanding aesthetic qualities. Customers can choose from three trim lines: the charismatic Attraction version, the dynamic Ambition line and the exclusive Ambiente variant.
In terms of safety, too, the A3 offers the highest standards. In Western Europe the sideguard head airbag system is fitted as standard – it covers practically the entire window area from the A-post to the C-post.
Drivetrain and chassis
Sporty, powerful and clean: this is the drivetrain line-up for the Audi A3 and A3 Sportback. All engines remain below the limits of the EU4 standard; all TDI units operate with highly efficient pump-nozzle injection technology and come off the production line with particulate filters. There are five petrol and three diesel engines to choose from. The thrifty and potent diesel units consume between only 4.9 litres and 6.4 litres of fuel per 100 km.
The petrol engines
The entry-level petrol engine is the 1.6-litre four-cylinder version with an aluminium engine block and variable intake manifold; it has a power output of 75 kW (102 bhp) and musters up 148 Nm of torque. The next engine in line, the 1.6 FSI, delivers 85 kW (115 bhp) and 155 Nm and features petrol direct injection, making it an extremely economical power plant. The 1.8 TFSI develops 118 kW (160 bhp) and 250 Nm of torque between 1,500 and 4,200 rpm.
The most powerful representative of the FSI series is the 2.0 TFSI with turbocharger and intercooler, which pumps out 147 kW (200 bhp). Its tremendous torque of 280 Nm is available across a wide speed range from 1,800 to 5,000 rpm. The combination of petrol direct injection and turbocharger creates a unique synthesis of free-revving response, propulsive power and outstanding efficiency.
The V6 engine with a capacity of 3.2 litres powers the top model in the A3 line. It develops 184 kW (250 bhp) and offers a broad torque plateau, with 320 Nm available between 2,500 and 3,000 rpm. The 3.2 is always coupled with quattro permanent four-wheel drive to provide a consistently sporty driving experience.
The TDI engines
The 1.9 TDI develops 77 kW (105 bhp) and applies 250 Nm of torque to the crankshaft at 1,900 rpm. The 1.9 TDI e version has an engine developing 77 kW (105 bhp) and an impressive combined consumption of 4.5 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres with CO2 emissions below 120 g/km. The 2.0 TDI delivers 103 kW (140 bhp), with its maximum torque of 320 Nm being available between 1,750 and 2,500 rpm. The two-litre TDI version with an output of 125 kW (170 bhp) is the first in the Audi range to combine state-of-the-art piezo technology with pump-nozzle injection. Two balancing shafts ensure smooth engine operation. The maximum torque of 350 Nm is available between 1,750 and 2,500 rpm.
The number of ways in which these eight engines can be combined with the various transmission types is without precedent in the compact class. Manual five-speed or six-speed gearboxes are available for all engine versions and, in addition, most of them can be ordered with either tiptronic or the S tronic dual-clutch gearbox, both of which feature six speeds. The innovative technology of the latter, inspired by the world of motor sport, permits gear changes at lightning speed.
quattro permanent four-wheel drive is standard on the 3.2 model and optionally available for the 2.0 TFSI and for both two-litre diesel units. It continues to secure an exceptional position for the A3 in the premium compact class – no direct competitor is able to offer any comparable technology.
The dynamic suspension of the A3 and A3 Sportback is designed for agile and sporty handling together with excellent stability. Its special technical features include two subframes, on which all axle components are pivoted, and the sophisticated four-link rear suspension, which can absorb longitudinal and lateral forces separately. Four large-diameter disc brakes are fitted behind the wheels, which are up to 18 inches in size.
The Audi A3 and the A3 Sportback are equipped with electromechanical, highly sensitive power steering. In conjunction with the ESP stabilisation system it supports the driver in critical situations by reducing resistance for steering impulses that stabilise the vehicle and increasing resistance to counteract incorrect steering manoeuvres.
The latest-generation ESP constantly analyses the driving situation and adjusts intervention thresholds to the prevailing conditions. In this way it can become active sooner in hazardous situations and on the other hand avoid unnecessary action. The optional Audi hill hold assist system combines convenience and safety by preventing the car briefly from rolling back when performing a hill start.
A particular feature in the premium compact class, which was established by the Audi A3, is the range of exclusive optional extras. The Audi A3 offers the navigation system plus, electric seat adjustment for the A3 Sportback and auxiliary heating for most models; for the A3 Sportback there is also a panoramic glass sunroof, known as the open sky system. Xenon plus and the cornering light function adaptive light are cutting-edge headlight technologies. The interior of every Audi A3 can be given a highly individual touch with a wide range of materials and colours.
The Audi navigation system plus allows practically unlimited navigation throughout Western Europe and in some East European markets. Its operating principle follows the same clear logic as the Audi MMI, familiar from the A8, A6 and Audi Q7.
The radio’s integral double tuner ensures optimum reception and convenient station selection. As well as navigation DVDs, the drive can be used to play audio and MP3 CDs.