A breakthrough in premium compact hatchback quality and capability is about to be made as the all-new Audi A3 opens for UK ordering in its three-door form with prices starting from £19,205 OTR. Subtly redefining the look of its supremely successful predecessor, and decisively elevating its dynamic character, fit and finish and on-board technology to a new plane, the third generation car also now has a UK specification which impresses at every level.
Redesigned from the ground up following the principles of ‘Audi ultra’ lightweight construction, the all-new A3 tips the scales an impressive 80 kg lighter on average than its predecessor, pegging the 1.4 TFSI model at just 1,175kg. The same painstaking pursuit of progress is evident in the very high quality cabin, which genuinely breaks new ground in the class with standards of materials, workmanship and ergonomics that genuinely push the boundaries at this level.
UK A3 models launch with a choice of three specification options – SE, Sport and S line – all of which are impressively well appointed. The entry level SE model features 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, the acclaimed MMI radio with its 11 millimetre-thin electrically folding screen, preparation for SD card navigation, Audi Music Interface iPod connection, a Driver Information System, the Bluetooth mobile phone interface and a multi-function steering wheel. It also offers voice control for many of its telephone and audio system functions.
Sport models upgrade to 17-inch alloy wheels and, for the first time at this level, feature the Audi drive select adaptive dynamics system. This enables the driver to choose from five modes which dictate the car’s driving characteristics – Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Efficiency and Individual. They influence the weighting of the steering, the sensitivity of the throttle pedal, the shift points of the S tronic transmission if this is fitted and the parameters used by the optional adaptive cruise control system. Additional Sport features also include two-zone climate control, sports seats, sports steering wheel and aluminium detailing inside and out.
Highlights of the top S line specification include 18-inch alloy wheels, S line body styling, xenon headlights with LED daytime running lamps, an S line sports steering wheel and part-leather-upholstered sports seats embossed with the S line logo.
More suspension choices
Suspension grades across the three specification levels are more interchangeable in the latest A3. As standard, SE models feature more comfort-oriented standard suspension, while Sport and S line versions move to a firmer sport setting which in S line models can be taken to an even more overtly handling-focused level with the no-cost option of dedicated S line sports suspension. A3 Sport and S line customers can now, however, also take the opposite approach by combining the attractions of Sport and S line specification with the optimum comfort of standard suspension.
A number of highly cost effective optional equipment packages focusing on comfort, lighting and technology can be incorporated into the A3 specification. Later this year this the portfolio will expand to include the technology package with Audi connect, which groups together three of the technological highlights of the new A3 range – MMI navigation plus, MMI Touch and Mobile Phone Preparation – High with Audi connect.
In-car InternetMMI navigation plus includes a powerful hard disk providing incredibly sharp and detailed navigation mapping with 3D capability and ‘jukebox’ music storage capacity; The MMI Touch fingertip recognition system, which for the first time is built into the rotary control knob, enables navigation and phone entries to be ‘written’ with a fingertip; And last but by no means least Mobile Phone Preparation – High with Audi connect brings Google Earth, Google Street View, Audi online traffic information and internet access to the car.
Key options also include SD card activation for the onboard navigation system, a 705-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system, the Audi phone box which enables wireless connection to the car’s antenna simply by placing a phone in the compartment and a parking assistant that can take care of steering during parallel parking manoeuvres. The list of high performance driver assistants from the classes above doesn’t end there – it also includes radar-assisted adaptive cruise control, Audi side assist blind spot monitoring, Audi active lane assist lane departure warning, speed limit detection and display via the MMI and the Audi pre sense basic safety system.
One of the most important choices will of course be the engine, and there are three very convincing four-cylinder petrol and TDI options to choose from at launch, all of which are essentially new developments bringing fuel economy gains of up to 12 per cent over their predecessors. The 1.4-litre and 1.8-litre TFSI petrol engines and the 2.0-litre TDI have outputs of 122PS, 180PS and 150PS respectively, and all drive the front wheels in this first phase.
The 1.8-litre TFSI is linked as standard to a seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission; the 1.4-litre TFSI and 2.0-litre TDI are paired with a six-speed manual gearbox. Additional engine and transmission combinations, and new engines such as the 1.4-litre TFSI with innovative cylinder on demand technology, will follow, as will models equipped with quattro permanent all-wheel-drive.
These hi-tech, impeccably refined units all deliver optimum performance with the help of engine start-stop and energy recuperation systems and highly efficient electromechanical power steering that demands none of their power when operating in the straight-ahead position. They channel their drive through a completely new chassis which strikes a considerably more delicate balance between comfort, composure and driver appeal, and which features an Electronic Stability Control integrating an electronic limited slip differential for handling that is even more fluid and safe at performance limits.
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