Cape Town - Audi has enhanced its A3 range with new technology, engines and refreshed styling. What’s more, it boasts the Virtual Cockpit as seen in the R8 and TT.
The revamped A3 is available as a three-door Hatchback, a five-door Sportback, Sedan and Cabriolet. The sport version, the S3, has also been improved.
Wheels24's Janine Van der Post experienced the new A3 range in Franschhoek, Cape Town.
Audi says its team felt the car didn't need to be changed as it still looked stylish and fresh. Hence changes were not dramatic to the refreshed version. The dimensions of the new A3 has remained virtually unchanged, however the styling has been updated in the form of new head- and tail lights, a new more sculpted bonnet, integrated front bumper with a redesigned singleframe grille and a new contoured rear diffuser.
The fog lights have been removed from the bottom of the bumper and integrated into the angular part of the new headlight design.
For a sportier look, the S-line package adds a new front bumper and rear diffuser.
New 16” wheels are available as standard (1.0T, 1.4T, 2.0T and 2.0TDI) with a range of 17” and 18” options available. The S3 is available with 18” wheels as standard.
The headlights sport new “lighting” graphics with jagged bottom edges. Bi-xenons are standard, while LEDs, as as well as Matrix LEDs, are optionally available. Both LEDs offer dynamic turn signals.
Audi says there are also five new body colours available: some blue and grey shades, as well as a bright yellow.
The engine line-up for the A3 comprises five engines; three petrol and a single diesel choice. Power outputs range from 85kW to 228kW (S3).
With its 1.0 TFSI, Audi for the first time offers a three-cylinder engine in its A3 range. This compact engine provides 85kW/200Nm. Fuel consumption is rated at 4.5-litres/100km with emissions of 104g/km exempt from CO2 tax in SA). The new entry-level petrol accelerates the A3 from 0 - 100km/h in 9.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 206km/h.
Another first for the A3 is the 1.4 TFSI with cylinder-on-demand (COD) technology, able to switch off two cylinders when power is not required. The engine produces 110kW/250Nm with fuel consumption, when fitted with a manual transmission, is 4.5-litres/100km with emissions of 105g/km (exempt from emissions tax).
The new 2.0 TFSI produces 140kW/320Nm. It takes 6.7 seconds for the sprint 100km/h and reaches a top speed of 244km/h. Fuel consumption is rated at 5.5-litres/km with emissions of 126g/km. The 2.0 TFSI engine can be mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission replacing the previous six-speed dual-clutch.
The single diesel engine, the four-cylinder 2.0 TDI, produces 105kW/340Nm. Only available in S tronic guise, fuel consumption is rated at 4.5-litres/100km with emissions of 117g/km.
The S3, powered by a 2.0 TFSI, now produces 228kW/ 400Nm (+18kW/20Nm) mated to a new seven-speed S tronic. Fuel consumption is rated at a claimed 6.4-litres/ 100km (improved by 8%). According to Audi: “By further optimizing the steering characteristic and exhaust system control, the Audi S3 drives even more dynamically.”
The S3 rockets to 100km/h in 4.5 seconds. The 0-100km/km figure is 4.6 seconds for both the S3 Sportback and the S3 Sedan, while the Cabriolet takes 5.1 seconds.
The A3 Hatchback, Sportback and Sedan will all offer the 1.0T FSI, 1.4T FSI, 2.0 TFSI, 2.0TDI and S3 versions, whereas the Cabriolet engine range is limited to only the 2.0T FSI and S3 Cabriolet. The 1.4-litre engines have been dropped in the latter model due to higher customer demand for the two available versions.
The optional sport suspension lowers the body 15mm while the S Line sport suspension lowers the new A3 even further – 25mm.
The electromechanical power steering is standard though the A3 can be fitted with optional electrically operated progressive steering system (not available for 1.0 TFSI). A special steering rack yields different gear ratios depending on the steering angle, minimising driver input on tight bends and when parking. This feature is available as standard for S3.
Image: Janine Van der Post
What's it like to drive
I drove several derivatives on short loops during the launch of the A3 around Franschhoek and Stellenbosch.
First up was the 1.0-litre TFSI, three-cylinder mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. It's a seriously nippy number even in sedan guise. Its 85kW is more than suffice and gear shifts are smooth. The 200Nm of torque is a blast and make for confident overtaking despite the fact that's it's a tiny engine.
The 2.0-litre TDI has plenty of grunt with 340Nm available. With fuel prices as ridiculous as Donald Trump being elected as the United States president, it's claimed 4.5-litre fuel consumption would be my pick of the bunch as a daily drive.
If fuel bills were not an issue, and I'd want to treat myself, the S3 would surely be parked in my driveway. It's the definition of compact fun and its throaty gurgle leaves you wanting to push the throttle deep into the corners just to hear that noise from its double twin pipes. Audi's rich motorsport heritage is evident in this thrill-seeking hatchback.
Image: Janine Van der Post
I've always loved Audi's minimalist approach with less is more, The facia is never cluttered and there are no extra, unnecessary buttons.
Luggage capacity ranges from - 365-litres (hatchback), 380-litres (sportback), 425-litres (sedan) and 320-litres for the Cabriolet.
The highlight inside is the new Virtual Cockpit, first seen in the TT and R8, available for the first time in the compact class via a 12.3” 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 analogue displays. In infotainment mode, a central window predominates that provides more space for the navigation map or shows clearly arranged lists for the phone, radio and audio sectors.
For the first time, there is a choice of two different MMI Navigation systems; basic or an advanced version. Both versions include Audi connect and Bluetooth streaming, the only difference being the MMI touch pad and the level of radio system. With Audi connect, many online functions are brought into the car such as Google Earth and Google Street View, point of interest search and the ability to turn the car into a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 8 devices. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto round off the infotainment offering by seamlessly integrating into the car via the Audi smartphone interface system.
More from Audi
The Audi A3 range will be bolstered in 2017 with the launch of two Audi Sport models in the form of the RS3 Sedan during the second quarter and the RS3 Sportback towards the end of that year. Pricing, says Audi SA, will depend on the exchange rate and "how many finance ministers we might have had" by the time the car is due to arrive here.
Audi will also introduce its smallest SUV yet, in the form of the new Q2 during the first quarter of 2017.
Standard equipment: 1.0T, 1.4T, 2.0T and 2.0TDI
Auto release function
17" wheels (Cabriolet only)
Driver information system
Electrical interface, Aux and USB
Exterior mirrors in body colour
Front centre armrest
Inlays in Micro metallic silver
Leather covered sport steering in 3 spoke design
Light and rain sensor
Interior lighting package
MMI radio plus
S3 standard equipment:
18” five-twin spoke star design
Audi Sound System
Deluxe automatic air-conditioning
Driver information system with colour display
Electric interface, Aux in and USB
Front Sport seats
High gloss package
Inlays in matt brushed aluminium
Interior mirror with auto antiglare action
Leather covered multifunction sport steering wheel, flat bottomed with shift paddles
Leather/ fabric seat upholstery
LED Headlights and rear lights incl. dynamic turn signals at the rear
Light and rain sensor
MMI radio plus
Pedals and footrest in stainless steel
Price: Includes taxes and standard five-year/100 000km Audi Freeway Plan
Audi A3 Hatch:
A3 1.0T FSI Manual - R391 000
A3 1.0T FSI S tronic - R409 500
A3 1.4T FSI Manual - R412 000
A3 1.4T FSI S tronic - R430 500
A3 2.0 TDI S tronic - R481 500
A3 2.0T FSI Manual - R429 500
A3 2.0T FSI S tronic - R448 000
S3 quattro S tronic - R638 500
Audi A3 Sportback:
A3 Sportback 1.0T FSI Manual - R398 500
A3 Sportback 1.0T FSI S tronic - R417 000
A3 Sportback 1.4T FSI Manual - R419 500
A3 Sportback 1.4T FSI S tronic - R438 000
A3 Sportback 2.0 TDI S tronic - R489 000
A3 Sportback 2.0T FSI Manual - R437 000
A3 Sportback 2.0T FSI S tronic - R455 500
S3 Sportback quattro S tronic - R646 000
Audi A3 Sedan:
A3 Sedan 1.0T FSI Manual - R408 500
A3 Sedan 1.0T FSI S tronic - R427 000
A3 Sedan 1.4T FSI Manual - R429 500
A3 Sedan 1.4T FSI S tronic - R448 000
A3 Sedan 2.0 TDI S tronic - R499 000
A3 Sedan 2.0T FSI Manual - R447 000
A3 Sedan 2.0T FSI S tronic - R465 500
S3 Sedan quattro S tronic - R656 000