New Audi A3 set to take premium motoring to a new level

Being the only premium A-Segment saloon in Ireland, the A3 saloon is likely to make a big impact on the Irish saloon market. The 1.6TDI will have the lowest Co2 emissions of any petrol or diesel saloon in Ireland. Audi Ireland Managing Director, Christian Gussen, says the A3 Saloon will be an important component for overall increase of sales for the popular A3 family.

Being the only premium A-Segment saloon in Ireland, the A3 saloon is likely to make a big impact on the Irish saloon market. The 1.6TDI will have the lowest Co2 emissions of any petrol or diesel saloon in Ireland. Audi Ireland Managing Director, Christian Gussen, says the A3 Saloon will be an important component for overall increase of sales for the popular A3 family.

The new Audi A3 is already famed for offering the finish and feel of an executive car, and as if to emphasise the point it now has the boot to complete the impression – the new A3 Saloon range becomes available for ordering this summer. The first ever booted A3 begins the Vorsprung durch Technik brand’s foray into the world’s largest market segment – the compact saloon class. 28% of Irish cars sold in 2012 were compact saloons. Audi’s venture into this segment in the A3 class showcases leadership of the Audi brand.

It slickly integrates more seats-up load space than the A3 Sportback with similarly ample passenger accommodation and performance, the latter helped by ‘Audi ultra’ lightweight construction processes that trim weight to as little as 1,205kg. Prices are confirmed to start at €29,950 on the road before ordering opens on the 11th July.

Design

Its design is a cross between the classic three-box concept and the coupé philosophy. The “tornado line” design element forms a distinct light-refracting edge that runs over the entire side. The overhangs are short.

The four-door car has a 2.64 metre long wheelbase and an overall length of 4.46 metres. At the front, the bonnet contours, bumper and air intake design and the single frame grille have been redefined for the newcomer, while at the rear, lights with broad and low cuts emphasize the car’s horizontal lines and an integrated ‘kicked-up’ boot spoiler lends a purposeful air.

The boots carrying capacity amounts to 425 litres with the seats up – 45 litres more than the A3 Sportback.

This capacity can be increased by folding down the split rear seat backs. The boot lid fully swings upward when unlocked.

The strict dictate of ‘Audi ultra’ lightweight design is evident in the 1,205kg kerb weight, which applies to the A4 1.4 TFSI Saloon that initially kicks off the range.

Audi uses many hot-formed steel parts in the passenger compartment for low weight and maximum strength, and the aluminium bonnet and front suspension sub-frame also help to lighten the load.

Engines from launch

The low 100kg weight of the 1.4-litre TFSI 140HP engine is also notable for its efficiency-focused Cylinder on Demand technology. At low engine load, the system deactivates two cylinders to minimise mechanical effort and cut fuel consumption. As a result, combined economy tops out at a TDI-rivalling 4.7l/100km, while CO2 is pared back to 109g/km which will sit in VRT band A3. Helped by its healthy 250Nm torque peak, the A3 1.4 TFSI Saloon takes just 8.4 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 100kph, and can reach 217kph where conditions allow.

The diesel contingent is initially represented by the latest 2.0-litre TDI producing 150HP and 320 Nm of torque. It powers the A3 Saloon from 0 to 100kph in 8.7 seconds, takes it to a top speed of 220kph and is capable of returning up to 4.1l/100km. This equates to CO2 output of 107g/km which sits the 2.0-litre TDI in VRT band ‘A3’. Just in time for January 2014 delivery, a 1.6-litre TDI producing 105HP and 250Nm of torque will return 3.9l/100km and, with only 99g/km of Co2, it sits in VRT band A2. The same engine, when combined with a six-speed manual transmission, will have the accomplishment of being having the lowest Co2 emissions from any saloon car in Ireland. This, of course, excludes electric and hybrid vehicles.

S tronic with free-wheeling function

Depending on the engine chosen, the standard transmission is either a manual six-speed or the S tronic dual-clutch gearbox. S tronic shifts without any noticeable break in propulsive power, and is controlled by either the selector lever or paddles on the steering wheel. The ‘D’ setting is programmed for maximum fuel efficiency, and the S mode with its higher shift points for more energetic driving. Where the Audi drive select adaptive vehicle dynamics system is fitted, S tronic offers a free-wheeling function in its efficiency mode which further reduces fuel consumption.

Infotainment and Audi connect

Like its siblings in the model series, the A3 Saloon makes use of the new modular infotainment system (MIB). The top system is MMI Navigation plus with an SSD hard drive offering 64 GB of storage, a DVD drive and whole-word voice control. A high-resolution 7-inch-screen shows the map image in detailed 3D graphics. The MMI Navigation plus system interfaces to cell phones and mobile players via Bluetooth. The user terminal has a turn/push control designed as a “touchwheel” with MMI touch – the touchwheel’s top surface is a touch-sensitive pad for inputting letters, symbols and numbers.

Other infotainment components include the Audi phone box for conveniently coupling a cell phone to the car antenna. The Bang & Olufsen sound system has a 705 watt amplifier drives 14 loudspeakers in 5.1 surround sound, and LED light guides illuminate the woofer grilles in the front doors.

Audi connect covers all technologies that network the driver with the car, the Internet, infrastructure and other vehicles.

Audi connect lets passengers conveniently surf and e-mail via an integrated WLAN hotspot. For the driver, it brings customized Internet services from Audi into the car. They range from navigation using images from Google Earth and Google Street View to Audi traffic information online and the smartphone app Audi music stream. News and information services complete the line-up. The online community services Facebook and Twitter are integrated in a vehicle-friendly way; along with a text-to-speech function, a practical text function is provided with prepared text units.

Christian Gussen, managing director of Audi Ireland, commented: “We expect the A3 saloon model will make a significant impact in the Irish market in 2014. We estimate that every second A3 customer will opt for the A3 saloon from its launch date in September, so its arrival will be hugely important to Audi, both on a global scale and to Audi Ireland.”

Audi will open a factory in Foshan, China, later this year to produce the saloon for the domestic market. Audi has invested more than €900 million to expand the factory, one of the world’s largest engine manufacturing facilities, which also builds the TT sports car and the A3 convertible. The project more than triples the site’s annual car production to 125,000 vehicles. The customer profile of the A3 Saloon is set to be wide-ranging: Customers looking to downsize from larger saloon cars to the customer who would like an A3 Sportback but would need increased practicality and space. The A3 Saloon has very similar dimensions to the first A4 released in 1994.