Audi releases images and details on the four-door version of its popular A3 model line in advance of its official debut in Shanghai next month.
Markets like North America and the Far East have been turning on to the smaller luxury cars that Europeans have enjoyed for decades, but with one vital difference: while Europeans are fine with prestige-badged, premium-positioned hatchbacks, the farther you get from Europe, the more customers demand trunks. And so Germany's automakers have been responding with new premium sedans aimed at younger and (relatively) more budget-conscious buyers. Following the emergence of the new Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class comes the new Audi A3 sedan and its hotter sister the S3.
While most of the new cars debuting this week are destined to be unveiled at the New York Auto Show (with a few headed for Seoul), Audi is actually preparing to present its new pint-sized sedan at the Shanghai Auto Show next month. So what are we looking at here, exactly? Well, it’s a three-box version of the existing A3 Sportback that will be hitting US showrooms at the start of next year. Measuring 175.5 inches long, 70 inches wide, 55.7 inches tall and riding on a 103.4-inch wheelbase, the new A3 is a bit shorter in both length and height than the CLA but just as wide, and roughly the same size as the original A4, which has since grown considerably in size.
Power will come from a 1.8-liter TFSI (Audi-speak for turbocharged and direct-injected) inline-four packing 170 horsepower, a 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel with 150 hp or a 2.0-liter TFSI in two levels of output which Audi has yet to reveal, but which is expected to offer around 300 horsepower in the top-spec S3 model. The S3 also gets upgraded aero, trim and suspension to distinguish it from "lesser" A3 models, but whether there’ll ever be an RS3 version with the 340-horsepower turbo five from the RS3 Sportback and TT RS to take on the CLA45 AMG (also debuting this week) remains to be seen.
While a six-speed manual will be offered (along with a smaller 1.4-liter TFSI) in Europe, North American models will all have their engines mated to Audi’s six-speed S-tronic automatic transmission. Inside you’ll also find all the latest upscale goodies, from chic leather upholstery and panoramic sunroof to a seven-inch MMI infotainment display and optional Bang & Olufsen audio system. Which just may be enough to drive would-be buyers of optioned-out "ordinary" sedans into Audi's swankier showrooms, where the German automaker hopes to retain them as their needs and budgets grow.