New Audi A3 twirls into Geneva
COMING TO SA: Audi's A3 has just been revealed at the Geneva show; it'll be here later in 2012. Image gallery
The third generation of Audi’s A3 luxury hatchback has been shown at the 2012 Geneva auto show and will be making its way to South Africa before the end of the year.
The all-new car takes the current interpretation of the Audi face, with its signature single-frame grille, and imbues it with a sporty appearance that is said to be relayed to the road as well.
Despite its more athletic stance, the three-door’s overall vehicle length has remained unchanged even while the wheelbase has grown to 2.6 metres. The C-pillar angle is more raked to appear almost coupe-like and the taillights, where the optional xenon plus headlights together with LED daytime running lights are in use, can be fitted with LED taillights. Full LED headlights will be extended to the range a little later and this will be a first in the segment.
SAME SIZE, LOWER MASS
Furthermore, Audi has used lightweight technology to trim the weight on its car – the three-door shown at launch is now 80kg lighter when compared to its predecessor – while the chassis is tuned for a sportier, more agile driving style. The front fender and bonnet are made of aluminium and the car body also uses a number of ultra-high strength and hot-formed steels.
Similarly, the A3’s redesigned interior is said offer a mix of new driver assistance systems, quality materials and a more ergonomic layout.
BOLD OPERATOR: The new A3's cabin is completely redesigned and incorporates a number of state-of-the-art technologies. We're not sold on the colour scheme, though.
The colour display for the driver information system shows its graphics as 3D images and the retractable MMI monitor is only 11mm thick. Freeing up space up front by using an electric park brake button, there’s room for the optional MMI operating system with a touchpad for easier input of letters and numbers by finger motion.
Regarding infotainment, there’s a Bang & Olufsen audio system, Bluetooth online car phone and a WLAN hotspot that enables passengers to use the internet while travelling.
Attraction, Ambition and Ambiente equipment lines are again offered with options including adaptive lighting, magnetic ride suspension and a full glass sunroof.
The all-new A3 is touted to be a “high-tech car full of innovations in all areas” by the automaker. Along with the regular petrol and turbodiesel models, models with hybrid, electric and natural gas drive systems will also be produced during its lifecycle. An ultra-frugal 1.6TDI will also be introduced later in 2012, claimed to sip 3.8 litres/100km of fuel and emit just 99g/km of CO2.
The new Audi A3 will launch with three four-cylinder engines, “which are essentially new developments”, the automaker says.
A1 ON STEROIDS? Based on the images, the three-door A3's styling closely follows that of its smaller A1 sibling.
The 90kW 1.4 and 132kW 1.8 TFSI engines and the 110kW 2.0 TDI, compared with the powerplants used in the previous model, have fuel economies that are improved (on average) by 12%.
The 1.8 TFSI is mated to a seven-speed S tronic duel clutch transmission, while the 1.4 TFSI and TDI’s power is channeled to the front wheels via a six-speed manual.
Quattro all-wheel drive will follow “over the course of the next few months”.
The new A3 is the first Volkswagen AG product to ride on the company’s modular MQB platform (or Modularer Querbaukasten in German) that will underpin up to 40 models across the Group by 2018.
SPORTY AND SECURE
Its chassis is tuned to deliver comfort and stability with agility and the power steering system is tuned for more accurate inputs. The ESC electronic stabilisation control integrates an electronic limited slip differential for safer handling when approaching the car’s (or driver’s) performance limits.
Audi’s optional drive select system further allows the driver to key in different operating modes to fine-tune steering, throttle and transmission responses, depending on the road and driving conditions. The A3’s wheels range from 16 to 18” in diameter.
A few more the technologies on offer take the form of high-performance driver assistance systems ranging from radar-based adaptive cruise control to active lane assist, traffic sign detection, park assist and Audi’s presense collision avoidance system.
The all-new Audi A3 will arrive in South Africa towards the end of 2012, while the Sportback version will follow in 2013.
Get the latest news from the 2012 Geneva auto show.