Audi’s mid-cycle update of the A3 brings new technology and a revised engine lineup

The Audi A3 came to life in 1996, and was originally offered as a three-door hatchback. It was built on Volkswagen’s Group A platform, which means its underpinnings were shared with cars like the Audi TT, Volkswagen Golf, Seat Toledo, and even the Skoda Octavia. As time went on, a five-door hatchback was added to the lineup, as well as a cabriolet.

The A3 went through a third-generation overhaul for the 2012 model year, and in 2013, we were introduced to the A3 sedan at the 2013 New York Auto Show. The sedan went on sale in Germany and the U.K. later that year, and now after just a couple short years, it looks like the A3 Sedan is up for a facelift.

We saw the most recent spy shots of the new Audi A3 doing some cold weather testing back in December, and now, Audi has finally unveiled the new A3 and lots of juicy details about it. The update to the A3 comes complete with new driver assistance systems, a new range of engines, and some redesigned features outside. On top of all that, Audi has finally integrated the Audi virtual cockpit into the A3. The new A3 is available in Sportback, three-door, and Cabriolet forms, as well as the popular sedan form that we’re about to talk about going forward. So with that said, let’s take a walk around the new A3 and see just what we can get excited about.

Update 08/12/2016: Audi has announced pricing for the facelifted A3 Sedan. Check out the prices section below for details.

Continue reading to learn more about the Audi A3 Sedan.

  • 2017 - 2018 Audi A3 Sedan
  • Year:
    2017- 2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-3
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    115
  • Torque @ RPM:
    147
  • Displacement:
    1.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    7.2 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    130 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    34200
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2017 - 2018 Audi A3 Sedan High Resolution Exterior
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On the outside, there are some significant changes to talk about. There is nothing serious enough to change the identity of the A3, but Audi did more to the A3 than we’ve seen some other manufacturers do with their recent facelifts. Up front, the large Audi grille remains, but it now has sharper points all the way around. The headlights have also been changed, now sporting a zigzag on the bottom side of the headlight, giving the front end a unique and sporty appearance. Down on the corners, the vents are a little bit smaller. There is still a horizontal splitter in each vent and a new horizontal splitter is added toward the outside edge, giving the vents a deeper appearance. Down below the grill, the air dam has taken a completely new shape, folding upward at the ends to run parallel with the lower sides of the grille – this specific feature actually makes the car look like it is smiling at you.

The headlights have also been changed, now sporting a zigzag on the bottom side of the headlight, giving the front end a unique and sporty appearance

Moving over to the sides, there isn’t much to talk about. The same double body line on the lower body exists, providing a 3D appearance toward the bottom of the doors. And the body line just below the waistline still runs from the corner of each headlight back to the corner of each taillight. This body line, however, actually appears to be a little more dramatic – at least with the body finished in an Ara blue color as seen in these images. The A3 comes standard with 16-inch wheels, but 17-, 18-, and 19-inch wheels are also available with all-new designs. Audi has also overhauled its line of available tires, which it claims to offer “improved performance with optimized rolling resistance.”

To the rear, the overall design of the car remains the same as that of previous years. The small lip integrated into the rear deck lid remains the same, as do the overall shape of the taillights. Those taillights to look to come to a sharper point on the upper outside corner, and no feature a new layout behind the lens. Down below, the characterizing body line that wraps around the rear fascia looks to be more dominate. A new body line runs between the reflectors on each corner of the fascia. The rear fascia insert now features a much sportier design with two horizontal louvers and some integrated black mesh. The A3 in these photos sports a single, dual-pipe exhaust outlet on the driver side.

Side-by-side comparison

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Interior

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If you were hoping to see some dramatic changes to the interior, you better prepare yourself to be let down. To be blunt, the interior was almost untouched during this overhaul. The car has the same overall layout, the seats have the same sewed design, and everything about the interior trim is the same too. The only real physical change I’ve noticed is that the circular vents now have more detail to them, but otherwise they are the same too.

The big news here is the integration of Audi’s virtual cockpit, which brings a new, digital instrument cluster to the A3

The big news here is the integration of Audi’s virtual cockpit, which brings a new, digital instrument cluster to the A3. Previous models had a small TFT display screen positioned between two analog gauges. Now, the A3 comes equipped with a 12.3-inch diagonal screen for an instrument cluster. Furthermore, this new display has two different modes that can be easily changed with the “view” button on the steering wheel. In classic mode, the display mimics the old instrument cluster. Two large, but simulated gauges are shown with information for the driver displayed between them. In infotainment mode, the gauges are shrunken down and appear as small round clocks, while the center window becomes dominate on the display providing a decent view of the navigation map, or lists for a telephone, radio, and audio systems.

The MMI system has also gotten an upgrade, featuring a new menu structure that is similar to that of smartphones. The rotary control knob on the center console remains, and the A3 comes with a seven-inch display as standard equipment. MMI navigation and MMI navigation plus with MMI touch are optional upgrades. With these upgrades, the system can display Google Earth and Google Street, as well as real-time traffic information. The system comes standard with a 4G LTE connection, with an included sim card in the European market as part of the Audi Connect package. The Audi MMI Connect app allows online media streaming, and calendar transfer from a connected smartphone.

So, as you can see, there are no major physical changes. But, Audi at least took the time to bring some new and updated technology to the A3, which is more than admirable and much needed to help the brand keep up in the compact segment.

Drivetrain

2017 - 2018 Audi A3 Sedan High Resolution Drivetrain
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Audi also put some significant work into the drivetrain department, featuring a total of six engines for the European Market. There are three gasoline engines and three diesel engines, all of which fulfill the European EU6 standard. The most notable thing here is that, for the first time, the A3 can be equipped with a three-cylinder engine. The engine in question is a 1.0-liter, TFSI, gasoline-powered three-cylinder that churns up 115 horsepower and 147.5 pound-feet of torque. The next gasoline-powered engine in the lineup is the 1.4-liter, TFSI, COD four-cylinder that features cylinder-on-demand technology and develops a total of 150 horsepower and 184.4 pound-feet of torque. The range-topping gasoline engine is an all-new, 2.0-liter, TFSI four-cylinder that produces 190 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque.

The new engine is a 1.0-liter, TFSI, gasoline-powered three-cylinder that churns up 115 horsepower and 147.5 pound-feet of torque.

On the diesel front, there is an all-new, entry-level 1.6-liter TDI that puts out 110 horsepower. The 2.0-liter TDI is offered in two different flavors. At launch, the 2.0-liter TDI will be available with 150 horsepower and 250.8 pound-feet of torque. Coming soon after launch will be a more powerful iteration of the 2.0-liter TDI that produces 184 horsepower and 280.3 pound-feet of torque. Needless to say, if you’re going to go with a diesel-power A3, you’ll probably want to wait until the more powerful variant of the 2.0-liter is available unless you’re interested in fuel economy and would rather opt for the new 1.6-liter.

The 1.6-liter TDI is bolted up to either a six-speed manual transmission or the S Tronic seven-speed dual clutch unit. Both 2.0-liter engines are connected to a newly developed seven-speed S Tronic with a wet clutch system, and quattro all-wheel drive is available for the 2.0-liter TFSI with 190 horsepower. Otherwise, the A3 is primarily front-wheel drive. Audi has yet to release performance specifications, so stay tuned for updates about that in the future.

On the suspension front, the A3 has been tuned for sporty handling and balance. The optional sport suspension is available, which actually drops the ride height by 0.6 inches, or up to one inch with the S line sport suspension. The A3 comes standard with an electromechanical power steering system, but can be optioned with the progressive steering system found standard in the S3.

All told, it has been four years since the last generational change was ushered in for the A3, but it’s a bit surprising to see Audi go so far as to update its engine lineup mid-cycle. I expected to see more exterior and interior changes, and the same old engine lineup. That said, I’m pretty impressed here. I suspect the same gasoline engines will be coming to the U.S. in due time. I do suspect, however, that A3 will probably generate a little more power here in the U.S., which seems to be the norm lately.

Prices

The Audi A3 Sedan is available in three different trim levels. The entry-level Quattro Premium model starts out at $34,200. Moving up to the mid-range, Premium Plus sedan will set you back $37,450, and the range-topping Prestige trim commands a whopping $43,150. Of course, these prices don’t include taxes, licensing, or destination fees, and there are a number of options available than can easily increase the price by thousands of dollars before you finally walk out of the dealership.

2018 Audi A3 sedan Prices

Audi A3 Sedan FWD S tronic Premium $31,950
Audi A3 Sedan quattro S tronic Premium $34,950
Audi A3 Sedan FWD S tronic Premium Plus $35,200
Audi A3 Sedan quattro S tronic Premium Plus $38,200
Audi A3 Sedan FWD S tronic Prestige $40,700
Audi A3 Sedan quattro S tronic Prestige $43,700

2017 Audi A3 sedan Prices

Audi A3 Sedan quattro Premium $34,200
Audi A3 Sedan quattro Premium Plus $37,450
Audi A3 Sedan quattro Prestige $43,150

Competition

Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

2017 Mercedes-Benz CLA
- image 669722

This update to the Audi A3 would make it a much stronger competitor to the CLA Class, except Mercedes just gave the CLA a facelift as well. With that face lift came updated styling inside and a sportier look on the outside that is going to give the A3 a run for its money. The CLA is available with a range of gasoline and diesel engines with output ranging anywhere between 109 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque up to 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. As of the time of this writing, Mercedes had yet to release pricing details of the updated CLA, but we’re expecting the CLA to start out around the $33,000 mark. So, even though it is arguably sportier and luxurious, it also starts out significantly higher than the A3’s entry-level $26,542 price tag. Needless to say, you get what you pay for. Deciding to between the CLA and the A3 will come down to how much you’re willing to spend for a compact sedan.

Read our full review on the Mercedes CLA here.

Buick Regal

2014 Buick Regal High Resolution Exterior
- image 513358

Previously, we’ve compared the A3 to the Buick Verano, but I think the Buick Regal is a slightly better competitor. All told, the Regal is a bit larger – nearly 15 inches longer, three inches wider and less than three inches taller – but that really isn’t much, and in terms of luxury, the Regal is a great competitor. The Regal comes in three trims, starting with the standard trim, then the Premium II trim and finally the GS trim. All trims come standard with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, DOHC engine and can be had in two-wheel or all-wheel drive. The 2.0-liter pounds out 259 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Inside, there is a bit more going on than the A3, but it does feature a wrap-around style dash and an infotainment system with a larger screen. Leather and woodgrain upholstery also adds to the luxury of the Regal. Price-wise, the Regal fits the comparative bill quite well. The Standard trim starts out at $31,415, the Premium II group comes in at $33,990 and the top-end GS trim comes in at $36,490.

Read our full review on the Buick Regal here.

Conclusion

2017 - 2018 Audi A3 Sedan High Resolution Exterior
- image 671736

With the A3 getting its mid-cycle update now, don’t expect to see a new generation of the model pop up until the end of the decade. I think that with the updated exterior, virtual cockpit, updates to the MMI system, and the updated line of engines, Audi has brought enough change to the table to warrant a trade in from current A3 owners. It would be an upgrade worth having. Plus, the new styling outside and updated technology inside should pull in a few new customers as well. All told, this mid-cycle update should keep the ball rolling for Audi until it drops the next-gen A3 toward the end of the decade.

  • Leave it
    • * Underpowered in base trim
    • * No design change to the interior
    • * Side profile remains unchanged

Update History

Updated 04/06/2016: Audi dropped the official details on the new A3 sedan.

Spy Shots

December 7, 2015 - First testing session

2017 - 2018 Audi A3 Sedan Exterior Spyshots
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2017 - 2018 Audi A3 Sedan Exterior Spyshots
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2017 - 2018 Audi A3 Sedan Exterior Spyshots
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Press Release

The successful model from Audi is now even more attractive: The Audi A3* approaches the starting line with new driver assistance systems and engines as well as newly designed headlights and taillights. Also new on board is the innovative operating and display concept, Audi virtual cockpit. The new A3 is available in a three-door version and as a Sportback,
a sedan and a Cabriolet. The sporty Audi S3* version comes with numerous innovations and has even further enhanced its dynamic potential. The A3 series offers the most versatile line of drive systems in the compact segment with the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron* and the Audi A3 Sportback g-tron*.

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Driver assistance systems from the Audi full-size category
With numerous driver assistance systems, the new Audi A3 raises the bar in the premium compact segment yet again. The further developed Audi active lane assist and Audi pre sense front, including predictive pedestrian protection, make town and country driving even safer.

New in the segment is the traffic jam assist, which works together with Audi adaptive cruise control (ACC) and its Stop&Go feature. The optional system keeps the car at a safe distance from the vehicle in front, and in combination with the S tronic, automatically sets the vehicle in motion again after a short stop. In sluggish traffic up to 65 km/h (40.4 mph), the traffic jam assist even briefly takes over the steering on well-paved roads. Another new feature for the A3 family is the optional Emergency Assist. This system initiates braking down to a safe stop if, despite warnings, no steering activity by the driver is detected. The new rear cross-traffic assist warns the driver about cross traffic when slowly backing out of a perpendicular parking space, for example.

Controls & displays, infotainment and Audi connect
The highlight in the interior of the new Audi A3* is the Audi virtual cockpit. This innovative operating concept is available for the first time in the compact class. The Audi virtual cockpit displays the most important driving-relevant information in high resolution on a 12.3-inch diagonal TFT screen. The driver can switch between two views by pressing the “View” button on the multifunction steering wheel. In classic mode, the instruments appear as large as the usual analog displays.

In infotainment mode, however, a central window predominates, which provides more space to the navigation map or shows lists for the telephone, radio and audio. The tachometer and speedometer appear as small round clocks.

The menu structure in the MMI system has been redesigned. Operation with its flat hierarchies is based on smartphones. The centerpiece of the MMI terminal is the round rotary/push-button control, whose ring is illuminated in white in the top version. On its surface is the touch-sensitive touchpad for entering characters and for multi-finger gestures, allowing the driver to zoom within the map. Above and beside the rotary/push-button control are toggle switches and buttons with which the driver can navigate through the newly designed menu structure. The enhanced voice control for navigation, radio, media and phone now also understands many phrases from everyday language.

2017 - 2018 Audi A3 Sedan High Resolution Exterior
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In infotainment, the new Audi A3 again sets new standards. The MMI radio plus with the electrically extended 7-inch diagonal monitor is standard equipment. The optionally available MMI navigation and MMI navigation plus with MMI touch in conjunction with the Audi connect module bring many online functions into the car. They include, for example, navigation with Google Earth and Google Street View traffic information in real time as well as practical information on parking, destinations, news or the weather. The information is transmitted via the super-fast LTE standard. The required flat rate data plan is included thanks to the Audi connect SIM card pre-installed in the car. The customer receives this embedded SIM (e‑SIM) in combination with Audi connect in Europe. It permits roaming in most European countries. Regardless of the integrated Audi connect services, data packets for individual internet use can also be booked via the Wi-Fi hotspot.

The free Audi MMI connect app enables other services, such as online media streaming and transfer of a calendar from a smartphone to the MMI. The A3 e-tron* also features services for programming the charging and the departure time and for the air conditioning.

Cell phones with iOS and Android operating systems are connected with the car via the Audi smartphone interface. The Audi phone box in the center armrest utilizes near-field coupling to link smartphones wirelessly to the vehicle’s antenna and enables inductive charging.

Newly designed equipment lines
Although hardly any change has been made to the dimensions – 4.24 meters (13.91 ft) in length with a wheelbase of 2.60 meters (8.53 ft) – the new Audi A3* appears even sportier and more expressive than ever. Its Singleframe grille features sharper contours and is broader. The headlights are flatter, with distinctive outer contours.

The rear accentuates the width of the new A3 – with the horizontal illuminated graphics of the rear lights and the separation edge above the redesigned diffuser. The color palette has been expanded. Twelve paint colors are available to choose from, including the five new colors Ara blue, Cosmic blue, Nano gray, Tango red and Vegas yellow. Daytona gray pearl effect paintwork is reserved for the S line exterior package.

New for the A3 are the modularly designed equipment lines. They afford the customer even greater freedom of choice, and for the first time, also affect details of the exterior. Besides the basic models, the future holds in store the two lines sport and design, with their optional S line sport package and design selection equipment lines.

Extensively updated: the engine lineup
The engine lineup for the Audi A3 comprises six engines (three gasoline and three diesel units). Their power output ranges from 81 kW (110 hp) to 140 kW (190 hp). All A3 models fulfill the EU6 standard.

With the 1.0 TFSI, Audi is offering a three-cylinder model in the Audi A3 series for the first time. The compact engine outputs 85 kW (115 hp) and delivers 200 Nm (147.5 lb-ft) of torque at 2,000 to 3,500 revolutions per minute. The new entry-level gasoline engine is efficient without sacrificing anything in terms of driving pleasure.

The 1.4 TFSI COD ultra features cylinder-on-demand efficiency technology, turning off two cylinders when the corresponding output is not required. The engine with 1,395 ccm displacement outputs 110 kW (150 hp) and develops 250 Nm (184.4 lb-ft) of torque.

A technical highlight is the completely new 2.0 TFSI with its innovative combustion process. From a displacement of 1,984 ccm it generates 140 kW (190 hp), delivering 320 Nm (236.0 lb-ft) of torque at 1,500 to 4,200 revolutions per minute.

Audi offers the four-cylinder TDI engine with 1,968 ccm displacement in two performance levels in the new A3*. The 2.0 TDI comes optionally with 110 kW (150 hp) and 340 Nm (250.8 lb-ft) at 1,750 to 3,000 revolutions per minute – and will soon be available with 135 kW (184 hp) and 380 Nm (280.3 lb-ft) at 1,750 to 3,000 revolutions per minute.

The new entry-level diesel engine is the 1.6 TDI with 81 kW (110 hp). It is available in combination with the six-speed manual transmission or the S tronic seven-speed dual clutch transmission.

2017 - 2018 Audi A3 Sedan High Resolution Exterior
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The 2.0 TFSI engines are joined by a fully newly developed seven-speed S tronic with wet clutch. It replaces the previous six-speed dual clutch transmission. The new Audi A3 transmits the engine power to the front wheels by default. For the gasoline-engine versions, quattro all-wheel drive is available for the 2.0 TFSI with 140 kW (190 hp).

The suspension of the new Audi A3 impresses with its balanced and sporty tuning. With the optional sport suspension, the body lies 15 millimeters (0.6 in) lower, and 25 millimeters (1.0 in) lower with the S line sport suspension. The electromechanical power steering is sensitive and efficient in operation. On request, Audi provides the likewise electrically powered progressive steering system for many models that is standard in the Audi S3* series.

The new Audi A3 rides on 16-inch wheels as standard equipment, with 17-inch wheels available in the design and sport equipment lines. The wide range of options with 17-, 18- and 19-inch wheels includes new designs. The line of tires has also been overhauled, and now offers improved performance with optimized rolling resistance.

For the first time in the segment: Matrix LED headlights
The headlights of the Audi A3* provide a distinctive and new look with their jagged bottom edges. Xenon plus units are standard; as options Audi offers LED headlights and for the first time matrix LED headlights as well.

Consistent lightweight design has brought the curb weight of the Audi A3 with 1.0 TFSI engine down to just 1,150 kg (2,535.3 lb) – the lightest in its class. The body of the new Audi A3 is crashproof and rigid to a high extent. A noise-insulating windshield is standard equipment.

The interior affords the top quality typical of Audi. The newly designed three-spoke steering wheel is heated on request. For more comfort on long journeys, Audi offers a driver seat with massage function in the new A3.

Sustainably en route: the new Audi A3 Sportback e-tron
The plug-in hybrid version, the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron*, combines a 1.4 TFSI, which outputs 110 kW (150 hp) and delivers 250 Nm (184.4 lb-ft) of torque, with an electric motor that produces 75 kW and 330 Nm (243.4 lb-ft). The system output of 150 kW (204 hp) affords sporty driving performance.

Full charging of the lithium-ion battery (8.8 kWh) from a 380-volt three phase-current supply takes a little over two hours.

The new Audi A3 Sportback g-tron
Audi offers still another drive alternative with the A3 Sportback g-tron*: The five-door compact model can use climate-neutrally produced Audi e-gas as fuel, in addition to fossil-based natural gas.

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Equipped with a 1.4 TFSI engine producing 81 kW (110 hp), the A3 Sportback g-tron sets standards for efficiency and economy. Fuel costs to the customer are roughly EUR 4 per 100 kilometers (62.1 mi). Thanks to the four-cylinder engine’s configuration for bivalent fuels, its range is over 400 km (248.5 mi) in the NEDC with natural gas fuel. When powered by gasoline, the driving range is extended by as much as an additional 900 km (559.2 mi).

More power: the new Audi S3
7 kW (10 hp) features more power and, in conjunction with the S tronic, 20 Nm (14.8 lb-ft) higher torque – Audi has done one better with the Audi S3*. Moreover, Audi engineers have integrated S3-specific control for the Electronic Stabilization Control (ESC) and the multi-plate clutch. The result: even greater driving dynamics, driving pleasure and safety.

The 2.0 TFSI now outputs 228 kW (310 hp) and with S tronic delivers 400 Nm (295.0 lb-ft) over the large range of 2,000 to 5,400 revolutions per minute. The S3 Sportback, the S3 Sedan and the S3 Cabriolet also profit from the extensive new features.

The new Audi A3 series goes on sale in early May, with the first deliveries to customers occurring in summer. The basic price for the Audi A3 with the new 1.0 TFSI engine is EUR 23,300 in Germany.

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