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Third generation Audi A3 debuted at Geneva Auto Show

The lightweight, efficient Audi A3 debuted its third generation at the Geneva Auto Show this week, boasting a 1.6-liter diesel engine getting a remarkable 61.9 mpg while emitting an enviable 5.6 ounces of CO2 per mile.
Posted: March 7, 2012 - 6:47PM
Author: Don Bain

Notably, alternatively powered versions of the Audi A3 are still in development, including hybrid and natural gas adaptations.

The premium compact three-door has managed to drop over 176 lbs from its svelte form, thanks to a tenacious adherence to Audi’s principles of ultra lightweight construction. The weight loss was achieved through the judicious, if safety conscious, application of aluminum along with ultra high-strength and hot-formed steels. Equipped with the new Audi A3 1.4-liter TFSI engine, the stylish Eurowagon weighs only 2,590.43 lb.

The Audi A3 is a little less than 14 feet long with a wheelbase of 8.5 feet, giving it the low stance of an offensive lineman, ready to spring suddenly forward into the mix. The comparatively high ratio of track width to wheelbase should result in stable, but remarkably agile handling.

The distinctive Audi flat black grille forms the focal point of the front end view that can optionally be outfitted with xenon plus headlight technology along with LED running lights. The option includes LED-equipped taillight, but soon full LED headlights on this model will be a first in the compact car segment.

A completely redesigned interior of the Audi A3 revolves about trendsetting materials, functional ergonomics and an instrument cluster that seems to float in the space behind the steering wheel. The driver information display (standard on the Ambition and Ambiente lines) presents graphics in highly defined 3D images.

A seven-inch retractable display monitor is less than half an inch thick. A new push button parking brake makes center console room for the controller of the optional Multi-Media Information (MMI) system. In the optimal level, the MMI navigation is controlled by a rotary button with a touchpad, allowing a driver to input destinations as simply as it is in the Audi A3’s older, more affluent siblings.

The notable little hatchback also has available features surprising in a compact car, such as adaptive cruise control, side assist, lane assist, traffic sign detection, park assist and the Audi pre sense basic safety system, a pre-collision preparatory program. This makes Audi a clear leader in technological advancement for this automotive segment.

The infotainment aspects of the three-door include a Bang & Olufsen audio system, MMI navigation plus, as well as Bluetooth phone online with a WLAN hotspot, providing passengers Internet access on the road. Additional services are available to the driver via Audi Connect.

The new Audi A3 will be available later this year and comes with a choice of three relatively new four-cylinder engines. Two TFSI engines and the TDI respectively have 1.4, 1.8 and 2.0 liters of displacement, successively producing 122, 180 and 150 horsepower. The fuel economy of the new Audi A3 was increased by roughly 12 percent on average with some engines delivering even greater savings, over previous models.

The 1.8 TFSI is equipped with a seven-speed S tronic, while the 1.4 TFSI and 2.0 TDI are coupled to a six-speed manual in the front wheel drive compact. An all-wheel drive model along with other engine choices are expected as well, including a 1.4-liter TFSI engine featuring new cylinder on demand technology.

On the Ambition trim level, the otherwise optional Audi drive select system allows driver input to tweak various aspects of steering, accelerator response and transmission traits in the S tronic. Optional adaptive shock absorbers utilize magnetic ride technology, and buyers have a choice of wheels from 16 to 18 inches in diameter.

The new Audi A3 goes on sale this spring with first deliveries during the summer. The base price in Germany will be $28,400 for the entry-level model, which will not be available until near year’s end. U.S. prices have not been announced as yet.