Audi A3 adds sedan variant, loses weight
MALLORCA, Spain – Audi's latest A3 is bigger but lighter than the outgoing model and also adds a sedan variant.
The A3 is the first Volkswagen Group car underpinned by a new architecture, called MQB, that will be used on 40 different models and 6 million vehicles by the Audi, VW, Skoda and Seat brands by 2018.
The five-door A3 weighs 1175kg, 80kg less than the outgoing car and the same as the first, three-door A3 launched in 1986 even though at 4237mm it is 87mm longer than the first-generation model.
Audi Chief Engineer Michael Dick said: "We saved 25kg with a multi-material bodyshell, another 10kg using aluminum for the front fenders and engine hood, 4kg each with lighter seat structures and a lighter air conditioning system."
The A3 is more fuel efficient with CO2 emissions cut by 17 percent compared with the outgoing car. A 105-hp 1.6-liter diesel version to be introduced at the end of the year will be the most fuel-efficient model, using 3.8 liters of fuel per 100km (62 U.S. mpg; 74 UK mpg) with CO2 emissions of 99g/km.
Bowing to demand for greener cars, Audi will introduce next year an A3 with a 1.4-liter turbocharged gasoline engine that can run on compressed natural gas as the brand's first CNG model.
Audi is adding a sedan version that will be the only variant sold in the United States, replacing the outgoing generation hatchback currently sold there. The sedan will also be sold in Europe and in China.
The first A3 was sold only as a three-door hatchback. The five-door Sportback was added in 2004 and a cabriolet followed in 2008.
The A3 is Europe's best-selling compact-premium model with 137,000 sales in 2011, ahead of the BMW 1 series, according to data from JATO Dynamics market researchers.
THE GOOD AND THE BAD
Target buyers: Customers who want luxury and the latest technology in a compact-sized car.
New technology: Safety system that automatically brakes if an accident is imminent. The Audi Phone Box in the center armrest allows a cell phone to be used as a WiFi hotspot for other mobile devices within the vehicle. Cylinder deactivation to reduce fuel use.
What's good: The dashboard is uncluttered because multimedia and navigation information is contained on a retractable 7-inch screen. The car's interior is plush with a lot of soft-touch plastics.
What's bad: Rear passenger seats are difficult to access, suitable only for fit people. Trunk capacity, at 365 liters, is low.
Launch date: August (Germany), September (rest of Europe), December (United States).
Base price: 21,600 euros (Germany).
Platform: MQB (modular transverse kit).
Where built: Ingolstadt, Germany; Gyor, Hungary (A3 Cabriolet, RS 3, sedan from late 2012); Foshan, China (from 2013).
Lowest CO2 emissions: 99g/km (105-hp 1.6-liter diesel)
Main rivals: BMW 1 series, Mercedes A class, Alfa Romeo Giulietta
You can reach Luca Ciferri at firstname.lastname@example.org.