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Geneva show: Audi plays its next A3 card

Given the boot: The A3 sedan previews the next-generation of Audi's small-car.

Next year’s redesigned A3 previewed by all-new compact Audi sedan at Geneva

Audi logo2 Mar 2011

By MARTON PETTENDY

AUDI has previewed the design direction of its next-generation A3, due to emerge next year, by staging the world debut of its first four-door A3 sedan at yesterday’s Geneva motor show opening.

Simply dubbed the Audi A3 concept, the 300kW Geneva show car marks the first compact saloon from Volkswagen’s luxury division since the ground-breaking Audi 80, which grew into the mid-size A4, and is expected to be built alongside the A3 Cabriolet in Hungary by 2013.

The booted A3 will be aimed squarely at North America, China (where an all-electric version of the concept is likely to appear at next month’s Shanghai motor show) and perhaps Europe, but is only a slim chance to join redesigned versions of the existing three- and five-door A3 hatch and two-door convertible in Australia.

As Audi announced when it revealed the A3 sedan in sketch form last week, the small premium sedan is 188mm shorter than Volkswagen’s Jetta and 260mm shorter than the current A4 at 4440mm long, as well as being 1840mm wide and just 1390mm high.

Wheelbase is listed at 2630mm – 52mm longer than the existing five-door A3 Sportback (2578mm) – which Audi says is both class-leading and enough to give occupants of the twin rear seats a “pleasing” amount of knee room, we well as 410 litres of boot space.

7 center imageLike all next-generation A3s, the sedan will be based on the Volkswagen Group’s new MBQ platform, which will be produced in a variety of wheelbases to underpin everything from the next Golf and Skoda’s next Octavia – as previewed by the Vision D concept at Geneva – to the next Audi TT.

The A3 ‘design study’, which appeared to be production-ready at Geneva, was powered by a 300kW version of the five-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that motivates the RS3 hatch, signalling the possibility of an RS3 sedan or at least quattro all-wheel drive versions of the three-box A3.

As with the Quattro Concept shown at last September’s Paris motor show, the direct-injection 2.5-litre turbo-five drives all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch S-tronic transmission, but this time offers 20Nm more torque at 500Nm, between the same 1600 and 5300rpm engine speeds.

Audi now says that is enough to propel the A3 notch-back, which has been confirmed to weigh 1540kg, to 100km/h in 4.1 and a governed top speed of 250km/h, while returning average fuel consumption of 9.1L/100km As previewed by last week’s sketch, the all-new compact features Audi’s trademark single-frame grille – this time made from carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic - with tapered upper corners, LED headlights, aluminium wing mirrors and door-handles, coupe-like C-pillars and a glasshouse that accounts for just one-third of the body’s overall height.

New technologies include an improved MMI operating system, a sport mode for the electronic stability control system, four transmission drive modes, and electro-mechanical parking brake and, at least on the concept, 20-inch twin five-spoke carbon-reinforced plastic and aluminium wheels.

Making its world debut alongside the A3 sedan was the A8L Security, an armoured version of the long-wheelbase W12-engined A8 limousine not yet sold in Australia.

Also gracing Audi’s Geneva exhibit was the RS3 Sportback, which as we’ve reported won’t be sold in Australia, and the Q5 Hybrid, which is yet to be confirmed for right-hand drive production.

Fresh from launching the A1 and diesel versions of the A8, Audi Australia will release the A7 Sportback locally late next month, along with a 1.6-litre diesel version of the A1 and the redesigned A6 range in July, then the all-new Q3 compact crossover in 2012.

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