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Paris show: Audi A3 Sportback sheds kilos

Extra pair: Audi may have revealed the Audi A3 Sportback six months after it first showed the three-door, but only the former will be coming to Australia.

New Audi A3 five-door gets radical changes under its same-again styling

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Audi logo20 Sep 2012

By MIKE COSTELLO

AUDI’S larger but lighter new-generation A3 Sportback five-door has broken cover ahead of its world public debut at the Paris motor show next week.

Expected to touch down in Australia around the middle of 2013, the compact hatchback is the first car to feature the Volkswagen Group’s innovative MQB modular platform, helping to slash weight by up to 90kg over the old model.

This replacement for the ageing outgoing model will provide Audi with the ammunition to take on the BMW 1 Series and the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz A-class in the premium small-car market.

As with the three-door variant unveiled in Geneva in March, the exterior styling is more evolution than revolution, retaining design cues not just from the previous version but also the rest of Audi’s larger passenger fleet.

Audi Australia corporate communication executive Shaun Cleary told GoAuto today the Sportback would again go it alone in the local range and would not be joined by the three-door, since Australian buyers traditionally favoured the more practical bodystyle.

At 4310mm long, 1780mm wide, 1425mm high, the new Sportback is slightly larger than the previous model, while its 2636mm wheelbase is 35mm longer than the three-door, freeing up an extra 15 litres of cargo space (380L or 1220L with the seats folded).

Audi says the extra length has created more legroom for rear-seat passengers, while headroom has also increased.

Initially, the Sportback will be offered with one diesel and two petrol engines – all turbocharged – while two more diesels and one more petrol will follow later. All engines feature idle-stop and direct-injection and are an average of 10 per cent greener than before.

Audi has confirmed Australia will get a mix of both petrol and diesel engines from launch, almost certainly including the 1.4-litre unit also used in the new Mk7 Volkswagen Golf which is sold overseas in two states of tune – 90kW/200Nm and 103kW/250Nm.

The latter of these features cylinder de-activation and thus consumes a claimed 4.7 litres of fuel per 100km on the combined cycle and sprint from zero to 100km/h in as little as 8.4 seconds.

Also on the cards is a 2.0-litre TDI engine producing 110kW and 320Nm of torque that uses as little as 4.2L/100km of fuel and has the same sprint time as the 1.4 petrol, while an even more potent 135kW/380Nm version is also available in Europe.

Another engine in with a chance for Australia is a 132kW/250Nm 1.8-litre turbo FSI petrol unit that sends the A3 from 0-100km/h in a slick 7.3 seconds.

Smaller 1.6 TDI and 1.2 petrol engines are also available in Europe, while a hot S3 and pure electric e-tron version will likely emerge in 2013.

All engines are matched with a six-speed manual gearbox or a six- or seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic with optional paddle shifters. The smaller engines send power to the front wheels, while the 1.8 petrol and hitter 2.0 TDI can be had with quattro all-wheel drive.

The A3 comes replete with a range of active safety features including adaptive cruise control with a idle-stop function for low speeds, lane-change assist, 360-degree parking camera and autonomous low-speed braking.

Interior features include 5.8-inch or 7.0-inch pop-up colour multi-function displays available with Google navigation, live traffic information, internet radio streaming, voice control, 60GB hard-drive and DVD player and Bluetooth and USB/AUX connectivity.

The A3 will also be available with LED headlights, generally the province of high-end large luxury vehicles such as Audi’s own A8.

The available Drive Select system provides four modes that affect the A3’s driving character, and can change the responsiveness of the steering, throttle, transmission and suspension.

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