We just attended a thorough workshop covering the tech inside the next Audi A3, the new compact from Ingolstadt that the U.S. gets in October 2013 as a five-door Sportback model, as well as a new four-door small sedan. A concept version of the four-door was shown at the Geneva Motor Show last year, while deliveries of this European hatchback start this July.

Our first drive of the three-door premium hatchback model that will be available at launch happens later this month, though it's sort of a shame we won't be getting this three-door here in the States. The five-door Sportback model that will be sold in the U.S. will be shown this October at the Paris Motor Show and will be available in Western European in January of next year. The premium hatch segment is fillling up fast now with this Audi, then the Volvo V40, to be followed then by the all-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
This completely new version of the A3 – now in its third generation having sold 2.7 million units worldwide since 1996 – is using the new VW Group MQB architecture, or "tranverse modular system" platform. Audi is finally in a position to make the A3/S3 a much larger sales volume car thanks to this universal architecture. Up until now, the various engine setups sharing the existing compact architecture required many variations, particularly in the forward or backward angle of incline of its transverse gas and diesel engines. With this new design, all engines will be inclined rearward at 12 degrees, which leans it naturally more toward the exhaust side facing the bulkhead, and helps reduce front overhang by two inches while creating more front passenger legroom as the front axle can move forward now by 1.6 inches.

Engines available at the first drive event this next month will include a totally revamped 121-horsepower 1.4-liter TFSI four-cylinder gas engine (right), plus an upgraded 177-hp 1.8-liter. Diesel engines – or TDI units – will start with just the 148 hp and 236 pound-feet of torque in the latest 2.0-liter TDI. Later, with the launch of the five-door Sportback, a new 2.0-liter TFSI gas engine joins the group in the next S3, and an ultra-efficient 1.6-liter TDI. In the future, the 2.5-liter TFSI five-cylinder will go into an RS3, which the U.S. should eventually get in the four-door body.

Besides that distant RS3, the U.S. will start out in later 2013 with both the 1.8- and 2.0-liter TFSI powerplants, which have been made lighter and more efficient than they are today. In addition, we will continue to get the 2.0-liter TDI, most likely in both the Sportback and sedan configurations. All of our future A3s will come with a newly developed multi-link rear axle, whereas any engine trims below 134 hp (i.e. 100 kW) are set to have a solid rear axle.

A primary operative in this A3's development has been to lower the overall weight. In this regard, the 1.4-liter TFSI trim in particular drops a significant 176 pounds due in part to the new aluminum crankcase for the engine. All other engine versions of the lineup will drop at least 130 pounds versus the current models. Chassis-wise, the Audi spaceframe aluminum-steel construction now makes its way into the compact segment as well with much of the front end components being made in aluminum.



Practically every option available for the big A6, A7 and A8 will now be available on the wee A3, including a much better new compact design for the Audi MMI interface with MMI Touch integrated onto the top of the mouse-rheostat on the console. We tried this and it finally works really well. All safety and convenience systems will also trickle down into the MMI system with each of them able to be calibrated differently instead of adopting a single default threshold. Sounds like added complexity, but this new Audi Connect setup makes sense quickly. Audi's front pre-sense technology is also seen here, with the car being able to halt itself while traveling at slower speeds if it senses no reaction from the driver when a collision is imminent.



All onboard connectivity systems are no longer Windows based, but use a QNX proprietary system developed with German group Harman Becker, the logic being to avoid viruses and other security risks from the outside. And the latest pop-up MMI screen's thickness is now down to 11 millimeters – about the width of a smart phone. Speaking of Bluetooth connectivity, there will no longer be a cable needed to access everything on your phone. You'll just place the phone in the Audi console phone box and all is executed via a near-field planar system.

Audi intends to redefine the compact premium segment with the new A3 and it sort of needs to approach things with such ambition, seeing as the premium hatch segment is soon to be chock full of heady competition. It's just sort of a shame that we need to wait this long to get our A3s.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 72 Comments
      CarCrazy24
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hopefully they'll bring it here with the TDI again and this time, with Quattro available with the diesel
      Rick C.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Anyone see this line in the story? All of our future A3s will come with a newly developed multi-link rear axle, whereas any engine trims below 134 hp (i.e. 100 kW) are set to have a solid rear axle. To be clear, when they say 'solid axle', are they really talking a solid axle?
        Snark
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rick C.
        Torsion beam - like a Versa or Jetta.
        spinnetti
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rick C.
        Well, yeah, but since that also implies no quattro in those models, its just a beam like so many cars and the cheaper models of the new jetta... Those won't come to the US I'm confident.
      Mingo Jones
      • 2 Years Ago
      Will manual transmission be offered in NA? Would really consider this if the manual transmission with the 177hp diesel was made available. I've seen the 3 door versions in Europe and imo it just doesn't look right missing the other 2 doors.
      Kip
      • 2 Years Ago
      Transmission options? Did I miss them?
      DashRipRock
      • 2 Years Ago
      If we could just get that two door hatch here in the US plus the turbo-diesel and a cloth interior, we'd be doing business. I am dumbfounded why we can't get this new crop of small cars in a two door format. It would handle 95 percent of my driving needs with the convenience of two adult size doors and no B-pillars blocking the side view. The two door vehicles that are sold in the US, sell in quite good proportion to their 4 door counterparts. Consider the Civic, Accord, Altima, Golf, etc. Throw in the convenience of that rear hatch and all that mechanical goodness, and that A3 two door would be quite a seller.
      Snark
      • 2 Years Ago
      Thanks, but I'll opt for a cheaper, better equipped Golf, Focus, Mazda3, or similar. I've never seen the point in a tarted-up Golf with a price to match; why not just buy the Golf?
        1STH
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Snark
        because the A3 is a MUCH nicer looking design, has quattro....and is generally engineered and built better.
          Snark
          • 2 Years Ago
          @1STH
          I see no evidence that the engineering is any different, especially considering that they use the same drivetrains, platform, and suspension design. Do you have any specifics on what you believe to be unique about the A3's design?
        rty
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Snark
        Can I have Bang & Olufsen and Full LED lights such a inteligent MMI system and such a nice interior/Exterior in Golf? No? so...
          Snark
          • 2 Years Ago
          @rty
          How much are full LED lights and some other tech baubles really worth, though? It's just a C-segment hatch. I know there are people who think a few options and a nice badge really are worth ten grand, I just don't see the logic in it. And the interior on an A3 is really no more special than the Golf's. They're the same materials.
        The Gaphreez
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Snark
        Although VW and Audi are both under Volkswagen AG's ownership, Audi is a completely different beast alltogether. Not to take away from VW, but the design processes, materials, and technologies incorporated in all Audis is of a much higher caliber than VW.
          Lachmund
          • 2 Years Ago
          @The Gaphreez
          this is wrong for the a3/a1 at least...except for the interior materials they are quite alike
          Snark
          • 2 Years Ago
          @The Gaphreez
          Again: what evidence do you have of this? Audi uses the SAME drivetrains, basic platform, suspension, and other components. What do you imagine Audi does differently that is fundamental to the engineering and design of the car? Aside from some techno-baubles on the interior, and maybe softer interior plastics.
        Myself
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Snark
        That was the briliant idea on part of the VAG. Explointing different expression of stupidity among different demographics. Take VW Golf, Audi A3 and Skoda Octavia. Pretty much same cars. Same engines, same transmissions, same electronics, same platform, many physical construction bits interchangeble. The A3 is a Golf with a lipstick. Octavia is a Golf with a huge oversize trunk. Now, the A3 owner is convinced he's bought into a premium class. The Golf owner thinks he drives an industry standard, which is true as the standard is defined as something average. Octavia owner thinks he's driving an Audi quality for the Skoda money. Another point to look at it is that an A3 owner paid too much money for what's essentially a Skoda Octavia with leather seats and B&O audio. If most components are the same, the cars are too. The rest is marketing.
          sebster718
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Myself
          VAG is not the only company that does this. Sharing platforms, drivetrains and sometimes interior components is standard fare in the industry.
        rllama
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Snark
        I'm pretty sure that around here we're not allowed to drive Golfs unless we're wearing a white baseball caps with the name of a state university on it, and have long sideburns and/or a goatee, but I admit I may be a few years out of date with that stereotype. I'm pretty sure they no longer require a plaid shirt with a white turtleneck underneath it, but I could be wrong about that.
      trevor-k
      • 2 Years Ago
      Lightyears better interior than that lexus hatch.
      Mark
      • 2 Years Ago
      Please give it a power bump. It is embarrassing that a premium brand keep pushing out the same underpowered standard engine across its lineup. The 265hp in the TTS should be the new 2.0T standard for the new A3.
        brian
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mark
        That would be an S3 or perhaps an RS3. Audi rarely ever rolls out their S-Models at the same time as their mainstream models - and RS models are well after the model series introduction... ...but don't hold your breath waiting for an RS3 here in the States.
          Mark
          • 2 Years Ago
          @brian
          You missed what I said. They need to upgraded THE STANDARD engine. They can give similiar bumps to their S/RS lines to keep plenty of distance. The problem of a 200HP A3 is it gets cross shopped with a GTI. They need to provide some distance there between their mass production brand (VW) and their premium brand (Audi). The US specific problem with the A3 has been that we don't get an S3. Audi wants to blame that on American's not likely "wagons" as much, but I think it has more to do with not offering a higher performance versions. It is hard to be a "hot hatch" at that weight and power level.
        jessesrq
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mark
        VW/Audi could sort of ignore the newer higher output 2.0 turbo engines from Hyundai/Kia since they have not really delivered on power and efficiency claims. To a lesser degree, the same holds true for the 2.0 Ford EcoBoost. But with BMW's new 2.0 turbo delivering on economy and power as the base engine for the American market, Audi needs to step up its own game.
          kcroc10077
          • 2 Years Ago
          @jessesrq
          The MKVII GTI (which should be here this fall) gets a new 2.0T engine. I thought the A3/A4 would get it also. Anyway, from what I've read that engine should put out around 240hp. And the 2013 GLI will also get it along with other upgrades.
          kcroc10077
          • 2 Years Ago
          @jessesrq
          The MKVII GTI (which should be here this fall) gets a new 2.0T engine. I thought the A3/A4 would get it also. Anyway, from what I've read that engine should put out around 240hp. And the 2013 GLI will also get it along with other upgrades.
        S.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mark
        265 hp standard? For real? What are you smoking
      Roger
      • 2 Years Ago
      Audi's are all the same. Even in commercials, their selling points are the lights. Prior to the DRLs on the R8 nobody cared as much about the brand, in my opinion.
      Javy
      • 2 Years Ago
      Please bring the 3 door to the US Audi... PLEASE
      Austin
      • 2 Years Ago
      Grrrrrr. It's really irritating that they insist on not bringing the 3 door to North America. It would be the ideal car for me, and I refuse to buy the 5 door just because it's there.
        Snark
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Austin
        Do two extra doors really matter that much? It's the same car in every other respect.
          Dan Paredes
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Snark
          The A3 Sportback is longer. It really looks different in person (at least this generation).
          Lachmund
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Snark
          the new sportback will be even longer and have a longer wheelbase as well
        kcroc10077
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Austin
        There's always the Golf R.
      stclair5211
      • 2 Years Ago
      I hear hatchback and all I think of is a Mitsubishi precise. Look it up youngins. It was spectacular.
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