New Audi A3 blazes trail to SA
LUXURY HATCHBACK BOOST: Audi's all-new A3 hatchback spearheads the automaker's fresh assault in the luxury hatchback stakes. More derivatives will follow.
The latest-generation Audi A3 has arrived in South Africa, boasting an all-new VW Group platform, top technological features and a range of new engines.
In what is described as a “new and exciting era” for the German automaker, the luxury hatchback is underpinned by an ultra lightweight principle.
High-tech steels reduce the A3’s overall weight by 18kg and the engine bonnet and fenders, made of aluminium, shave a further 9kg off the overall mass. Along with additional chassis and interior components, these contribute to a mass that is no more than 1175kg, Audi said.
Compared to the previous version, the new car’s kerb weight is lower by up to 80kg.
The A3 also rides on an all-new Volkswagen Group platform that will underpin a number of A3 models, including sedan and Sportback bodystyles in 2013, and the Volkswagen Golf 7 that arrives in South Africa in February 2013.
The A3’s wheelbase has grown to 260cm and it measures 424cm long, 178cm wide and 142cm tall although its body retains athleticism with its low bonnet, bold shoulder line and raked C-pillars. Luggage space has grown to 365 litres.
As usual, Audi’s large, single-frame grille dominates the car’s front although this focus can be shifted with dazzling optional xenon plus headlights and LED daytime running lights. Tail lights are fitted with light emitting diodes as standard.
The cabin incorporates a number of new features including an instrument panel Audi said “seems to float … (with) intuitively easy ergonomics”.
Circular airvents are inspired by jets and the seats and steering wheels are also made to a new design.
Optional features include Audi’s top-of-the-range MMI navigation plus system with a 7” monitor and touch capability linked the system’s regular push-button control wheel.
Three trim levels are offered – S, SE and quattro – and the level of standard equipment, according to Audi SA, is much improved over the previous models.
The S line includes 16”, 10-spoke aluminium alloy wheels, an LED interior lighting package, driver information system, light and rain sensors, front centre armrest, Bluetooth and MMI.
The SE trim adds 17” five-spoke aluminium alloy wheels, a sports suspension, sports seats, Audi’s Drive Select system, aluminium exterior package, an active speaker system and colour driver display.
The quattro trim line adds leather and alcantara seat finishes, a luggage compartment package, an updated MMI system and aluminium interior finishes.
The A3’s engine line-up has been overhauled too, and introduces the number of new powerplants to the range.
All engines subscribe to Audi’s downsizing principle and feature direct injection, turbocharging and start-stop systems.
Range-topping petrol and turbodiesel engines are also equipped with Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system that distributes power between the front and rear axles as required.
At launch, the new A3 is available with 90kW 1.4T FSI and 132kW 1.8T FSI petrol engines and a 77kW 1.6TDI turbodiesel.
The line-up will be extended to include a 77kW 1.2T FSI and a 135kW 2.0TDI (with quattro) over the coming months.
For now, the 1.4T FSI manual and S tronics return an average 5.2 litres/100km and CO2 emissions between 113 and 120g/km.
The 1.6 TDI has an emissions figure of 102g/km and, as the 1.4, also comes in beneath South Africa’s 120g/km CO2 emissions tax threshold. Its fuel consumption is a claimed 4.4 litres/100km.
The 1.8T FSI engine replaces the previous-generation 118kW 2.0T FSI engine and is available with manual and S tronic transmissions, and front- and quattro all-wheel drive. Combined fuel consumption on this engine ranges from 5.6 to 6.6 litres/100 km, with CO2 emissions figures of 135g/km (manual), 130g/km (S tronic) and 152g/km (quattro S tronic).
PRICES (including emissions tax, where applicable, and standard five-year or 100 000km maintenance plan):
1.2T FSI manual S - R267 000 (available from February, 2013)
1.4T FSI manual S - R274 500
1.4T FSI S tronic S - R291 500
1.6 TDI S tronic S - R302 500
1.8T FSI manual SE - R305 000
1.8T FSI S tronic SE - R322 000
1.8T FSI quattro S tronic - R351 500