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Audi A3 facelift breaks cover

A plus: Audi's updated A3 range arrives later this year and will be offered with the company's 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine.

A4-style makeover keeps the popular Audi A3 Sportback, Sedan, and Cabrio fresh


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6 Apr 2016

AUDI is looking at consolidating its lead in the premium small-car category with the facelifted A3 range that will roll into Australian showrooms at the end of this year.

Unveiled in Germany this week ahead of a European release in May, this is the first facelift for the third-generation version that was released three years ago, ushering in an A4-style makeover designed to keep the series competitive against the hard-charging Mercedes-Benz A-Class and CLA series.

The changes are subtle, with a longer and flatter Single Frame grille, more angular headlights with the option of Matrix LEDs and a redesigned front bumper with reshaped air intakes.

Revised LED tail-light lenses and newly positioned light reflectors denote the A3’s updated rear end, while restyled alloy wheels and a fresh colour palette complete the exterior changes.

Inside there is now the option of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit instrumentation layout that offers the choice of an analogue-look or infotainment 12.3-inch TFT screen display, as part of a cabin freshen-up that includes an improved MMI multimedia interface system with Apple iOS or Android smartphone interface, new steering wheel and updated trim.

However, the big news is beneath the bonnet, where the entry-level variants score Audi’s lauded 1.0 TFSI three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine, tuned to deliver 81kW of power and 200Nm of torque in this guise.

In between there is the continuing 110kW/250Nm 1.4 TFSI with Cylinder On Demand cylinder cut-off tech, while an all-new 140kW/320Nm 2.0 TFSI arrives fresh from its appearance in the latest TT and A4.

Three diesels will also be available in some markets, beginning with a revised 81kW 1.6 TDI, and extending to a 2.0 TDI in 110kW/340Nm and 135kW/380Nm outputs.

All are available in either six-speed manual or re-engineered S-tronic seven-speed dual-clutch transmission formats, though the latter will probably be the only one we will see in Australia.

Meanwhile, now with 228kW/400Nm, the S3 benefits from a 7kW/20Nm hike as well as an ESC and multi-plate clutch upgrade for claimed greater dynamic responses, while at the other end of the scale, the A3 Sportback e-tron again combines a lithium-ion battery (offering 8.8kWh) and 75kW/330Nm electric motor with a variation of the 110kW/250Nm 1.4 TFSI unit for a 150kW total system output.

However there is no news as yet as to what the flagship RS3 hot-shot will gain for its model year 2017 revamp.

Lastly, the driver-assist safety systems come in for an overhaul, including the latest versions of Audi’s active lane-keep system, now with predictive pedestrian protection at low speeds there’s optional adaptive cruise control with a traffic jam assist system that keeps the car in pace with the one ahead at speeds of up to 65km/h and will even steer it gently as required and a cross-traffic assist device that warns of approaching vehicles when reversing out of a parking space.

As before, Australia will only see the five-door Sportback, four-door Sedan, and two-door Cabriolet models, leaving the three-door hatch for other markets.

Exact specifications and other details will follow closer to the A3’s fourth-quarter release date in Australia.

Sales in the VFACTS $40,000-plus premium small-car segment are close, with the A3 leading the A-Class 1544 to 1336 units year to date.

Mercedes counters this by saying that it actually streaks ahead when the CLA sedan and wagon’s 873 registrations are also included, although the latter is classified in the premium mid-size class.

In third place is BMW’s 1 Series hatch, with 710 sales, or 990 units when the unrelated 2 Series Active Tourer is also included.

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