A3 to set new benchmarks
Audi is taking orders for the all new A3 months ahead of the expected delivery date of mid September. This is the most eagerly awaited model in the luxury compact hatchback segment of the market for some time and comes loaded with the latest in driver assistance technology. It also boasts an ultra lightweight design which has helped make this the first A3 to have CO2 emissions lower than 100/km.
Now in its third generation, the A3 was launched here in 1996 and now represents 20 per cent of all Audi sales. Managing director Andrew Doyle believes that the new model will be hugely successful as it sets new benchmarks in the premium compact class.
He highlights two key developments. "Ultra lightweight technology has given this sporty three-door an exceptionally low weight, down by as much as 80 kg on the current model depending on the engine and when compared to the previous model, fuel economy has improved by 12 per cent on average."
The new model will launch with four newly developed engines, two petrol and two diesel. The 1.4 litre (€26,600) and 1.8 litre SE (€30,400) TFSI engines have 122 bhp and 180 bhp output while the 1.6 litre TDI (27,500) and 2-litre TDI (€29,000) offer 105 bhp and 150 bhp output. The line-up starts with a 1.2 litre petrol unit with 105 bhp with a price tag of €25,100 and there is also a more powerful 2-litre diesel with 184 bhp output priced at €31,750. With the exception of the 1.8 litre petrol (Band B, €225) all the engines fall into the lowest emission class, Band A (€160). Top sellers in the Irish market will be the 1.6 litre diesel and 1.4 litre petrol offerings.
Leading the design team which produced the new A3 was a Dubliner, David Caffrey, 38, whose interest in cars started in his father's workshop in Liberty Lane. He also worked on the design of the Q5 and is currently working on future models at an Audi design centre in Los Angeles. The exterior design is evolutionary but with much sharper lines and newly designed grille and light clusters.
The lightweight theme is carried right through the car with seats, suspension and engines getting the weight-drop treatment. Driver comfort has not been sacrificed. The cabin has a luxury feel and the materials are top notch.
Drivers will appreciate the pop-up 5" colour screen on the dashboard which gives information on the car's set-up, entertainment options and satnav. Options include a self parking system and an adaptive cruise control system that will stop the car at speeds below 30 kms if it senses a collision is imminent. The safety package of airbags and braking aids is excellent.
A favourite choice will be the 1.6 litre diesel which returns good economy. On the road, it is a silent and willing performer and handling is up to the best Audi standards. There is also a five-door option and a saloon version is on the cards.