Audi established the premium compact class segment with the A3 in 1996. The new generation of the success model is now being introduced on the market – sporty, digitalized and fully connected. Beneath the progressive design of the body of the new A3 Sportback and the new A3 Sedan lie many innovations from the full-size class, for example, the infotainment, suspension, and driver-assist systems.
Distinctive: design and lighting
The new A3 models feature compact proportions and a sporty design. The wide Singleframe and large air inlets at the front end accentuate their dynamic character. The shoulder of the body extends in a smooth line from the headlights to the rear lights. The area below is curved inward. This is a new element of Audi’s design that puts a stronger emphasis on the wheel arches.
The digital daytime running lights of the Matrix LED headlights are further innovation. They consist of a pixel array made up of LED segments in a three by five arrangement that creates special light signatures and makes the new A3 immediately recognizable.
The sporty and sophisticated design is continued in the interior with the new shifter, aluminium or carbon inlays, striking door openers, and an instrument panel with a black-panel look. Seat upholstery made of recycled PET bottles, on which stylish contrasting stitching sets accents, are being used for the first time.
Optimized: the space concept
The new A3 models offer more space and functionality combined with compact external dimensions. Measuring 4.34 meters (14.2 ft) in length and 1.82 meters (6.0 ft) in width (without mirrors), the A3 Sportback has grown by just over three centimetres (1.2 in) compared with its predecessor.
The height of 1.43 meters (4.7 ft) – without the roof antenna – and the wheelbase of 2.64 meters (8.7 ft) remained unchanged. Depending on the position of the rear bench seat, the luggage compartment holds between 380 (13.4 cu ft) and 1,200 litres (42.4 cu ft), and the loading floor can be inserted at different heights. Upon request, there is a tailgate for the Sportback and the Sedan that can also be opened with a foot movement. With the A3 Sportback, it is optionally available with an electric drive that closes the tailgate once more.
The new Audi A3 Sedan is just over 15 centimetres (5.9 in) longer than the A3 Sportback. All other dimensions are identical. At 425 litres (15.0 cu ft), the luggage capacity is the same as in the predecessor model. The rear end and the large diffuser help the Sedan to achieve an excellent drag coefficient of 0.25.
Digitalized: controls and displays
The cockpit of the new A3 is wholly focused on the driver. It uses familiar elements from the brand’s full-size class models and is equipped with a 10.1-inch touch display as standard, which is integrated into the centre of the instrument panel. It recognizes letters entered by hand, provides acoustic feedback, and can be controlled using natural language.
The instrument cluster, which the driver operates via the multifunction steering wheel, is also digital as standard. The optional Audi virtual cockpit provides additional functions such as the large display of the navigation map. The plus version measures 12.3 inches and enables three different views, including graphics with a sporty look. A head-up display is offered as an option.
Intensified: the infotainment
The MMI operating concept is powered by the new third-generation modular infotainment platform. Its computing power is ten times higher than that of its predecessor. It performs all tasks relating to connectivity, including telephony and the Audi connect services with LTE Advanced speed, and also has an integrated Wi-Fi hotspot.
Individual settings can be stored in up to six user profiles – from climate control and the seat, position to frequently selected navigation destinations and frequently used media. The DAB+ digital radio is included as standard and the online or hybrid radio is available as an option. Route guidance is particularly easy and flexible.
For example, the navigation offers predictions on the development of the traffic situation, high-resolution satellite images from Google Earth, and detailed 3D models of many major European cities. The online traffic information plus with lane-precise traffic flow display and the Amazon Alexa voice assistant will follow in the near future.
The connect services also include car-to-X services. In selected cities, they help with finding free parking spaces on the roadside or allow the driver to surf the green wave by communicating with traffic lights.
The new Audi A3 is connected to the user’s smartphone via the myAudi app, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, as well as via the Audi phone box. The latter connects the device to the car antenna and charges it inductively. The Audi connect key allows the user to lock and unlock the car and to start the engine via an Android smartphone.
Refined: the engines
In Europe, there are six engine/transmission variants to choose from for the new Audi A3 – four TFSI and two TDI. The 1.0 TFSI, a three-cylinder gasoline engine with 81 kW (110 hp)2 of power and a six-speed manual transmission, serves as the entry-level engine.
The larger gasoline engine, a 1.5 TFSI with 110 kW (150 hp)3, follows the same formula. It, too, is connected to a six-speed manual transmission. Or it works in conjunction with the extremely fast-shifting seven-speed S Tronic and the mild-hybrid system4. In addition, the 1.5 TFSI features cylinder on demand (COD) technology. At low and medium loads, it temporarily deactivates the second and third cylinders, thus helping to reduce fuel consumption.
The 2.0 TDI is also available in two versions. As the entry-level engine, it develops 85 kW (116 hp)5. In the top version, the diesel engine delivers 110 kW (150 hp)6.
The engine versions at the start of production will be combined with front-wheel drive. Power will be transmitted by a six-speed manual transmission or – with the MHEV engine variant and the powerful TDI – the quick-shifting seven-speed S Tronic, the selector lever of which is now designed as a compact shifter.
The driver can push and pull this to control the basic functions of the automatic transmission. Shortly after market launch, Audi will be gradually expanding the offering to include further electrified drive systems and versions with Quattro drive.
Refined: the suspension
The suspension of the new A3 models – with a four-link rear axle for engines from 110 kW (150 hp)7 – is sporty and balanced, combining pleasant ride comfort with good dynamics. In combination with the optional Audi drive select dynamic handling system, the suspension is available with adaptive damper control, which simultaneously lowers the body by 10 millimetres (0.4 in).
Each damper permanently adapts to the road condition, the driving situation, and the settings in Audi drive select, creating a widespread between highly comfortable roll motion and agile handling. With the sport suspension – standard in conjunction with the S line exterior, otherwise an option – the focus is clearly on dynamics. Due to the tauter tuning of the suspension and dampers and the fact that the vehicle is lowered by 15 millimetres (0.6 in), the new A3 conveys an even more direct contact with the road surface.
Well versed: the driver assist systems
Equipped with Audi pre sense front, the collision avoidance assists, and the lane departure warning, the new A3 models help prevent accidents with other road users and offer a high level of safety as standard. Further assist systems, such as the lane change and exit warnings as well as the cross-traffic and park assist systems, are available as an option.
The adaptive cruise assist, which customers know from many of the full-size models, assists with longitudinal and lateral guidance. It maintains the speed and distance to the vehicle in front and assists with lane guidance by means of gentle interventions in the electromechanical steering. This increases the level of ride comfort during long journeys in particular.
Scheduled: market launch and prices
Presales of the new A3 Sportback started in March 2020 in many European countries. The 1.0 TFSI (81 kW/110 hp)8 is listed at €26,800 in Germany, while prices for the 1.5 TFSI with 110 kW (150 hp)9 start at €28,900. The new A3 Sedan has also been available to order since the end of April and will be delivered to customers from the summer. The A3 Sportback costs an extra €900.
For both models, the market launch will be accompanied by a special-edition model: the edition one with exclusive features. From the outside, it can be recognized by special attachments, darkened Matrix LED headlights and 18-inch wheels. The interior S line with newly developed sports seats including integrated head restraints, aluminium inlays and stainless steel pedals rounds out the dynamic look.