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First look: Five-door Audi A3 unveiled

Five doors are better than three: A3 Sportback is more than a five-door version of Audi’s forthcoming A3 hatch.

Audi reveals the all-new A3 Sportback which will launch at the Paris motor show

7 Jun 2004

AUDI has released first pictures of an all-new A3 five-door that will join the forthcoming A3 three-door on sale here early next year.

Dubbed Sportback, the new five-door compact hatch is expected to be the volume seller of the redesigned A3 line-up - the three-door variant of which will be launched Down Under next week at an opening price of $36,900.

With the current A3 three-door unavailable here (except in flagship S3 guise) and the A3 five-door range presently starting at $35,400, expect local Sportback pricing to start above both these figures – but still under $40,000 – when it goes on sale here in the first quarter of 2005.

Measuring 83mm longer than the new three-door upon which it’s based (which itself sits on a 65mm-longer wheelbase and is 30mm wider than its predecessor), Sportback features the same bold new Audi signature grille.

But otherwise it appears to be much more than a five-door version of the three-door first revealed at the 2003 Geneva motor show. Cargo space is the biggest difference, of course, and extends from 370 to 1120 litres with the rear seats folded – enough to store two golf bags sideways, apparently.

While the split-folding rear seatback is standard, Audi will offer optional luggage compartment and storage packages, plus a new large glass sunroof developed specifically for Sportback, to be known as “open sky”.

7 center image Three new trim levels will also be offered: entry-level Attraction, sporty Ambition and exclusive Ambiente.

Said to combine the “sporting elegance of a coupe and the versatility of a five-door vehicle”, Sportback will make its first public appearance at this year’s Paris motor show.

However, Audi may launch Sportback in Europe just prior to the show in September, as it did with the new A6 prior to Geneva this year, in a bid to focus the Paris limelight on an even bigger new product.

While Australian pricing and specification is yet to be decided, Sportback will be positioned as the sportier of the two new A3 hatch bodystyles, so expect a similar engine line-up to that of the three-door - including a V6 range-topper down the track.

But it’s unclear which bodystyle will form the basis of the next-generation S3 performance variant, let alone a potential RS3 range-topper.

Employing the same wheelbase, suspension and drivetrains (in Europe) as the three-door, A3 Sportback should launch here with 1.6 FSI petrol, 2.0 FSI petrol and 2.0 TDI turbo-diesel variants with both manual and auto transmissions - 1.6-litre cars with a five-speed manual, 2.0-litre cars with a six-speed manual and each with a six-speed Tiptronic auto.

However, A3 Sportback will also play host to the debut of Audi’s new 2.0-litre TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine, with a power peak of 147kW and 280Nm of torque on tap between 1800 and 5000rpm.

In six-speed manual form, the A3 2.0 TFSI Sportback is claimed to sprint to 100km/h in just 7.1 seconds and to a top speed of 234km/h. But it’s unlikely to be the sportiest Sportback.

That honour should go to the A3 3.2 V6 which, with 184kW, quattro permanent all-wheel drive and optional Direct Shift Gearbox, should be the flagship Sportback.

While neither the TFSI Sportback or V6 Sportback are confirmed for Australia, if they do come the 2.0 TFSI is likely to be priced above the current A3 1.8T ($44,950 manual, $46,950 auto). The A3 V6 AWD three-door is slated for release here in August at under $70,000.

Audi Australia hopes to more than double its current (five-door-only) A3 sales volumes of around 70 per month when both new A3 variants are on sale, with 100 sales per month expected of the three-door to be launched this month, and even more lofty sales targets to be set for the five-door.

“We know that the five-door is probably going to be the strongest option in terms of sales here because this is a five-door market, but the three-door is also a great little sports hatch,” Audi spokesperson Anna Burgdorf told GoAuto.

“The diesel won’t be cheap and we will need to go through a process of public education because it’s unusual in the small passenger car market. But anything that travels 1000km on one tank of fuel has to be good and there will be a big price gap between the 2.0 TDI and V6 (three-door).” Ms Burgdorf conceded both new A3 variants will face stiff competition this year from all-new Euro compacts in the shape of Volkswagen Golf and BMW 1 Series. “Both new A3s will be fantastic packages and we just have to prove our product is better than our VW and BMW rivals,” she said.

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