Audi's company ethos (and advertising slogan) of "Vorsprung durch Technik" translates as "advancement through technology", and nowhere is that better exemplified than with the new Audi A3.
The new, even more sharply styled A3 features new engines and new technology including the latest driver assistance and infotainment advances, including the standard-fit Audi smartphone interface and the optional fully digital Audi virtual cockpit, and will be available here in the UK in late summer in the shape of the first three-door, five-door Sportback, Saloon and Cabriolet versions, with a plug-in hybrid A3 Sportback e-tron with its 176mpg capability and 37g/km CO2 output making its UK debut in updated form later in the year.
Undoubtedly, the real star of the interior of the new Audi A3 is the Audi virtual cockpit, which can now be specified as an alternative to the standard analogue unit. Using this innovative concept, which is available for the first time in the compact class, the driver is able to read a display of what they consider the most important driving-relevant information in high resolution on a 12.3" diagonal TFT screen - even to the extent of being able to switch between two views by pressing the “View” button on the multifunction steering wheel.
Two modes are available: classic and infotainment. In classic mode, the instruments appear as large as the usual analogue displays, while in infotainment mode the screen features a central window to allow more space for the navigation map and menu lists for the telephone, radio and audio. It still shows the rev counter and speedometer, but in smaller versions as round clocks.
The menu structure in the MMI system has also been redesigned by using technology and operation based on those of smartphones. Dominating proceedings for use is a round rotary/push-button control, while on the surface we find the optional touch-sensitive touchpad that can be used to enter characters and for multi-finger gestures, allowing the driver to zoom within the map. Menu Navigation is also made easier with toggle switches and buttons with enhanced voice control also a feature for navigation, radio, media and phone.
When it comes to infotainment, the new Audi A3 again sets new standards with the MMI radio plus and electrically extended 7" diagonal monitor as standard. And with the addition of MMI navigation (standard on SE Technik and above), MMI navigation plus and MMI touch bringing many online functions into the car at high speed via the super-fast LTE standard (including navigation with Google Earth and Google Street View traffic information in real time) you'll find that all the technology you need - including practical information on parking, destinations, news or the weather - is at your fingertips.
There is also the additional option of the Technology package which now includes a three year subscription to Audi Connect, enabling owners to access Audi connect services thanks to the Audi connect SIM card pre-installed in the car.
Mobile phones with iOS and Android operating systems can now be connected with the car via the standard Audi smartphone interface, which made its debut in the latest Q7 and A4 models; and now, for the first time in the Audi A3 range, two mobile phones can now be simultaneously connected via the Bluetooth hands-free profile when Audi Phone Box is specified, enabling the driver to connect his/her work and personal phone without having to switch between connections.
With numerous driver assistance systems, The new Audi A3 sets new standards in its class with a number of driver assistance systems. These include:
It's the same size (4.24 metres in length with a wheelbase of 2.60 metres) but the new Audi A3 has the look of a car that means business with a broader Singleframe grille featuring sharper lines and flatter headlights with distinctive outer contours. These headlights provide a distinctive new look with their jagged bottom edges, and the Xenon plus units with LED daytime running lights come as standard, with the exception of S line and S3 models which now automatically come equipped with LED headlights and LED rear lights incorporating sweeping dynamic rear indicators. Light and rain sensors are fitted as standard in all specifications and, for the first time, matrix LED headlights are offered as an option.
At the back, the horizontal illuminated graphics of the rear lights and the separation edge above the redesigned diffuser make the car look wider, and there is also an expansion of the available colour palette with the choice having been extended to twelve with the addition of Ara blue, Cosmic blue, Nano grey, Tango red and Vegas yellow.
When it comes to looking good, the new Audi A3 rides on 16" alloy wheels in the SE trim, and on 17" and 18" wheels when equipped to Sport or S line specification respectively, although a wide range of optional wheels ranging in size from 17" to 19"are also available.
The interior of the new Audi A3 is as top quality as you would expect from Audi. Cruise control is now standard equipment on SE models, as is the newly designed three-spoke steering wheel, heating and a massage function available as an optional extra.
The new and improved Audi A3 is available with three petrol and three diesel engines, with power output ranging from 110PS to 190PS, all within the EU6 standard.
A new entry-level choice for the A3 range is the 1.0 TFSI engine, Audi's first ever three-cylinder variant, which delivers 115PS and 200 Nm of torque at 2,000 to 3,500rpm, producing efficiency with no reduction in driving pleasure.
The 1.4 TFSI COD features cylinder-on-demand efficiency technology, turning off two cylinders when the corresponding output is not required, and offers 150PS and 250 Nm of torque.
The entry-level diesel engine is the 1.6 TDI with 110PS, and is available in combination with the six-speed manual transmission or the S tronic seven-speed dual clutch transmission.
The consistently popular 2.0-litre four-cylinder TDI engine will be available in two states of tune in the new A3 – initially with 150PS and 340 Nm at 1,750 to 3,000rpm, and slightly later with 184PS and 380 Nm at 1,750 to 3,000rpm.
And then there is the completely new 2.0 TFSI engine, with its innovative combustion process and fully newly developed seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission with wet clutch, that generates 190PS, delivering 320 Nm of torque at 1,500 to 4,200rpm.
For the petrol-engine versions, quattro all-wheel drive is available for the 2.0 TFSI with 190PS, and all engines are supported by an updated suspension and sensitive and efficient electromechanical power steering (that can be upgraded in many models to the electrically powered progressive steering system that is standard in the S3 series.)
The plug-in hybrid e-tron version of the A3 Sportback combines a 1.4 TFSI engine with 150PS and 250 Nm of torque with an electric motor that produces 75 kW and 330 Nm that helps the car to overall emit 204PS.Full charging of the lithium-ion battery (8.8 kWh) from a 380-volt three phase-current supply takes a little over two hours.
10PS more power and, in conjunction with the S tronic twin-clutch transmission, 20 Nm higher torque – the new Audi S3 is already a potent machine, so Audi engineers have integrated S3-specific control into it in the shape of the Electronic Stabilization Control (ESC) and the multi-plate clutch to help improve the driving dynamics, driving pleasure and safety. The 2.0 TFSI version in the Audi S3 now generates 310PS and with S tronic delivers 400 Nm over the large range of 2,000 to 5,400 revolutions per minute with the S3 Sportback, S3 Saloon and S3 Cabriolet the models benefiting from the extensive new features.
If you can't wait until the release of the new Audi A3 later this year, check out some great deals on the existing Audi A3 and other Audi models here.