The Audi A3 and A3 Sportback are the sporty models in their segment. The upscale equipment and trim underscores their elegant style. Audi optionally equips its two premium compact models with highly developed technologies such as the S tronic dual-clutch transmission, the Audi magnetic ride suspension system and quattro permanent all-wheel drive. All of the engines combine powerful and sporty performance with low fuel consumption. The A3 1.6 TDI emitting just 99 grams per km (159.33 g/mile) sets new standards for efficiency.
The design expresses the sporty elegance of the three-door A3 and the five-door A3 Sportback. The optional xenon plus headlights are combined with LED daytime running lights. The single-frame grille element and the trims on the B-posts are painted in high-gloss black, the lower air inlets have chrome struts and there are chrome strips in the door handles. All versions of the A3 have a diffuser insert with a distinctive spoiler lip in the rear. Light guide rods in the in the tail lights of the A3 Sportback form a distinctive contour; the three-door model features tinted tail lights.
Sporty elegance infuses the interior, as well. The instruments feature faces backed in gray, and a flat-bottomed leather sport steering wheel is available as an option. The air vents are framed in black rings while the optional navigation system sports a high-gloss bezel. There are gleaming aluminum-look trim inserts on the center console, mirror adjuster switch and window lifter buttons.
In models equipped with a manual transmission, a gear-change indicator in the driver information system (standard in the Ambition and Ambiente trim lines) complements the operating concept. The front-wheel-drive A3 provides a generous 350 to 1,080 liters (12.36 to 38.14 cu ft) of luggage capacity, with the front-wheel-drive A3 Sportback offering even more: 370 to 1,100 liters (13.07 to 38.85 cu ft).
There are eight powerplants in the engine lineup for the Audi A3 and the A3 Sportback – four gasoline and four diesel units. All are cutting-edge four-cylinder units featuring turbocharging and direct injection and badged as TFSI and TDI. They offer all the qualities of Audi engine technology – efficiency, refinement, power and high torque. Audi couples many of the engines with a start-stop system that works together with both the manual and the S tronic automatic transmissions. The recuperation system is standard with all engines.
The entry-level gasoline engine is the 1.2 TFSI; it exemplifies Audi’s downsizing strategy – the substitution of turbocharging for displacement. The four-cylinder unit develops 77 kW (105 hp) and a hefty 175 Nm of torque (129.07 lb-ft) from its small displacement of 1,197 cc, yet averages just 5.5 liters of fuel per 100 km (42.77 US mpg). The most powerful gasoline engine is the 2.0 TFSI with 147 kW (200 hp).
The TDI range extends from the 1.6 TDI developing 66 kW (90 hp) to the 2.0 TDI, with an output of 125 kW (170 hp). The most efficient engine in the lineup is the 1.6-liter TDI with 77 kW (105 hp). It is available in a variety of different versions, the most economical of which averages 3.8 liters of fuel per 100 km (61.90 US mpg) in a three-door A3 with manual transmission. In-detail modifications to the body and chassis contribute towards this excellent figure.
The range of transmission technologies is also extremely diverse. Most engine versions in the A3 model series are paired with a six-speed manual transmission. Audi offers many of the engines with the extremely fast and comfortably shifting S tronic. Shift paddles on the steering wheel are standard in the Ambition line. Depending on engine version, the dual-clutch transmission has six or seven speeds. The seven-speed version uses dry clutches; the elimination of the oil supply further improves the transmission’s already high efficiency.
The chassis of the A3 model series combines a sporty character with supreme safety and a high level of comfort. Its precision and poise stem from elaborate solutions such as a four-link rear suspension, which handles longitudinal and transverse forces independently, and the electromechanical power steering, which is as intelligent as it is efficient.
For engines developing 103 kW (140 hp) and upwards, Audi supplies the adaptive damper control system Audi magnetic ride, which exploits the properties of an electromagnetic fluid.
The extensive range of high-end options demonstrates the high technological standard of the A3 model series. These include the adaptive light dynamic cornering light system for the xenon plus headlights, the high-beam assistant and the navigation system plus with MMI operating logic.
The parking assistant is another very attractive feature. When driving by at speeds up to 30 km/h (18.64 mph), its ultrasound sensors scan the parking spaces parallel with the road; when it detects one that is large enough to reverse into, it then indicates this in the instrument cluster. All the driver needs to do is engage reverse and operate the accelerator, clutch and brakes – the car maneuvers independently and precisely into the space.