Audi are turning into Porsche and what I mean by that is not that they are fitting their engines behind the rear axle and suddenly thinking air cooling is a good idea but are instead using tracing paper to design their new cars. I am of course speaking about the all new Audi A3, which despite the model now being 15 years old is only now coming into its 3rd incarnation. In comparison the A3’s cousin the Golf seems to have changed hundreds of times and spawned numerous spin offs in the same time period.
Anyway back to my original point, tracing paper. There is an all new A3 and it looks not all dissimilar to Audi’s baby A1. In fact if you were to take an A1, photocopy it and press enlarge you’d pretty much have the new A3. None of this photocopying is a bad thing though, the new A3 looks clean, sharp and purposeful, the new Audi family nose and headlights making the car look wonderfully aggressive, I can’t wait to see what an actually aggressive S3 will look like. Another reason the new car looks so good is the simple fact it’s bulked up. The A3 has grown 12mm wider and 23mm longer in the wheelbase over the old model. So it goes without saying that as well as being slightly sharper in the bends, the occupants will have a bit more room to stretch out in too, oh and the boots grown a little too. However the best thing Audi has managed to do and something which image conscious males the world over can only dream of doing is bulk up and lose weight at the same time. 80 kg has been lost over the old model thanks to aluminium wings, bumpers and some very anal attention to detail.
When it comes to interior fit and finish Audi’s have always been a cut above the rest (I’m writing this inside a 12 year old A3 right now and it hasn’t aged at all). Clear, understandable controls made from quality materials combined with that reassuring Audi door clunk is sure to make this new A3 seem just as fresh 12 years from now. Gadgetry wise Audi has raided the parts bin usually reserved for its bigger models.
A3’s will come with a 7 inch sat nav screen and Audi’s MMI on board computer interface and touch pad to control the many functions. And in typical Audi fashion there will be plenty of expensive options. How does a 705w Bang and Olufsen stereo sound? It’s more like a car pa system! Or internet access with the ability to connect up to 8 other devises? Meaning you’ll never need to park in a McDonalds car park for free Wi-Fi ever again! There’s also a whole bunch of collision avoidance tech and adaptive cruise control.
So what engines will be available to power this mobile internet café around? From launch in September 2012 there will be 3 engines to choose from. Two TFSI petrol’s, a 1.4 with 121bhp and a 1.8 with 178bhp and one 2.0 turbo diesel with 141bhp. Gearbox wise all cars will come with a 6 speed manual, with the 1.8 being offered with a 7 speed S-tronic twin clutch thingy. As always with any new car there are big claims about fuel economy, with Audi saying that fuel consumption has reduced by 12 per cent across the A3 range.
Finally, what other A3 versions are we likely to get? Well there’s already been a supper efficient 1.6 TDI announced which claims to offer 73mpg and sub 100g/km of C02. As for the other end of the spectrum no S3 has been announced as yet, but expect one of them and no doubt an even quicker RS3, both, naturally, with Quattro. To finish off with there will most certainly be a convertible and the slightly longer sportback versions for the posers and families alike.
Come September Audi’s new A3 will hit showrooms with prices starting at £19,000. Slightly more expensive than rivals it may be, but what you’d expect from Audi, they don’t do budget motoring. I suspect they will sell quite a few regardless of price and kudos to them for doing so, the new A3 shapes up to be a pretty well accomplished hatchback, definitely not a photocopied and enlarged A1.