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Driven: Petrol power to fore with new Audi A3

Straight A: Audi’s updated A3 range, with more engine choice and standard equipment, is expected to keep the German car-maker at the top of the premium small-car segment.

More equipment for segment-leading Audi A3, but diesel engine now special order

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Audi logo16 Nov 2016

By TUNG NGUYEN

AUDI has comprehensively upgraded its segment-leading A3 premium small-car line-up which arrives in Australia with a fresh look, more standard equipment and reshuffled engine options, including the addition of two new petrol powertrains.

Making room for the new entry-level 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder and sub-S 2.0-litre turbo four, the German manufacturer has deleted the previous 1.8-litre petrol variants while the 1.4-litre TFSI is now only available with cylinder-on-demand (CoD) technology.

The company has also discontinued the previous 2.0-litre TDI diesel and relegated the 1.6-litre TDI to ‘special order’ status.

Audi Australia product communications manager Shaun Cleary said the consolidation of the range was due to slow sales of particular variants, with the deletion of the 2.0 TDI unrelated to the VW Group’s diesel emissions-cheating scandal.

“It made up quite a small proportion of sales, less than 10 per cent, so what we’ve done is streamline that,” he said. “The petrol TFSI engines are getting more and more frugal, which is another point to consider.” The 1.6 TDI continues as a special-order product and receives the same updates as the rest of the A3 range, but Mr Cleary said it will likely remain a low-volume variant.

Exterior changes to the facelifted A3 range include more angular headlights (with the option of Matrix LEDs), a new front grille and redesigned tail-lights, while a simplified infotainment control scheme and optional ‘virtual cockpit’ headline the changes inside.

Audi has also included satellite navigation and autonomous emergency braking (AEB) as standard across the range.

The new A3 range now kicks off $600 cheaper than before at $35,900 plus on-road costs, with the aforementioned 1.0-litre TFSI turbo triple producing 85kW of power between 5000-5500rpm and 200Nm of torque from 2000-3500rpm.

Acceleration from 0-100km/h takes 9.9 seconds in the 1275kg base front-wheel-drive A3, which also returns an official fuel economy figure of 4.8 litres per 100km while emitting 111 grams of CO2 per kilometre. An automatic engine idle-stop system assists here.

Despite being the cheapest A3 in the range, Audi has loaded the 1.0 TFSI with a long list of standard equipment, including 16-inch alloy wheels, 7.0-inch colour infotainment display, Bluetooth connectivity, tyre pressure monitoring system, leather-clad steering wheel, automatic headlights/wipers and LED daytime running lights.

Standard safety equipment includes seven airbags, the aforementioned AEB (with pre-collision warning), a reversing camera, and front and rear parking sensors.

Moving up to the carryover 110kW/250Nm 1.4-litre turbo four brings the price up to $39,900 for the Sportback hatch and serves as the entry-level engine for sedan and cabriolet body styles with a price of $41,500 and $49,000 respectively.

The 0-100km/h sprint is cut to 8.2s in the 1315kg Sportback, while the heavier sedan (+5kg) can achieve the same time and the hefty 1470kg convertible takes 8.9s.

The 1.4 Sportback returns fuel economy of 5.0L/100km and emits 117g/km of CO2, while the sedan is slightly less thirsty at 4.9L/100km and a little greener with 114g/km. The 1.4 A3 Cabriolet returns 5.1L/100km and 120g/km of CO2.

Compared to the standard equipment found in the 1.0 TFSI, the 1.4 TFSI CoD offers 17-inch alloy wheels in either a twin-spoke or kinetic design and high-gloss exterior accents.

Inside, the mid-range A3 gains leather seats, aluminium highlights across the air vents, glovebox, window switches and parking brake, additional storage options including nets on the back of the front seats and a 12V sockets in the rear centre console, and paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

While safety equipment remains the same for the Sportback and sedan, the drop-top loses curtain airbags for front and rear occupants.

Sitting at the top of the regular A3 range is a new 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, developing 140kW/320Nm and available across all three body styles with either front-wheel drive or Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system.

The FWD-only 2.0 TFSI Sportback starts from $45,900, while adding quattro brings the price up to $49,500. FWD/quattro sedan variants add $1600, while equivalent convertible models add $9100 over the Sportback.

Acceleration remains quickest in Sportback guise, with respective 0-100km/h times of 6.8s and 6.2s for the FWD and AWD versions. Sedan versions are near identical with 6.9s (FWD) and 6.2s (AWD), while the cabriolet will complete the sprint in 7.2s (FWD) and 6.9s (AWD).

The 2.0 TFSI Sportback is also the lightest of the 2.0-litre variants, tipping the scales at 1390kg in FWD form. Quattro adds 70kg, the sedan versions cop another 5kg penalty, whereas the folding fabric roof mechanism in the FWD and AWD convertibles add an additional 150kg and 170kg respectively over their Sportback counterparts.

Fuel economy in the FWD 2.0-litre is 5.9L/100km for the Sportback, 5.8L/100km for the sedan and 6.0L/100km in the cabriolet, whereas quattro-equipped versions will return 6.2L, 6.1L and 6.4L/100km respectively.

Front-drive 2.0 TFSI Sport A3s are fitted with five-arm 17-inch alloy wheels, Audi’s Drive Select with dynamic, individual, comfort, efficiency and auto settings, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, sports leather seats up front, aluminium door sills, and Audi’s smartphone interface for Apple and Android devices.

The 2.0 TFSI S-line quattro variants offer 18-inch alloys in either a five-arm or multi-spoke design, sports suspension, and LED headlights and tail-lights with dynamic indicators.

All A3 models across the range feature a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission – an additional ratio over the previous model – with 1.0 and 1.4-litre engines getting a dry clutch set-up, while 2.0-litre and S variants come with a new wet clutch system.

Audi is also placing a large emphasis on individualisation and personalisation, with a choice of 12 exterior colours – black and white as no-cost options, yellow for $650, metallic colours for $1150 and a crystal-effect Ara blue for $1750 – and 16 different wheel options with 10 new designs across the range.

Options include a $1500 Assistance package, which incorporates adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, hill-start assist and rear cross-traffic alert, and a $2900 Technik package, which bundles together Audi’s customisable all-digital virtual cockpit dashboard with a flat-bottomed sports steering wheel.

Other packages available are dubbed Style, S-line Sport and Comfort.

All updated styling and equipment have also made their way into the S3 range – starting from $62,900 for the Sportback and rising to $72,000 for the Cabriolet – which additionally receives a modest 3kW power bump to 213kW from its 2.0-litre TFSI four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine.

Torque remains unchanged at 380Nm, but thanks to a new seven-speed automatic, 0-100km/h times are improved by 0.2s across the DCT range, the fastest being the Sportback and sedan at 4.8s, followed by the convertible at 5.3s. Six-speed manual hatch and sedan sprint times remain at 5.4s.

Fuel economy in the S3 range fluctuates between 6.5L/100km in the automatic sedan, 6.6L/100km in the Sportback and 6.8L/100km in the convertible to 7.1L/100km in manual-equipped models.

As standard, S3 variants feature 18-inch alloy wheels, Audi Drive Select, LED headlights, leather seats, virtual cockpit, digital radio and 10-speaker sound system.

Options include Matrix LED headlights for $1300, red interior accents for $990 and an Assistance package for $1500 which includes adaptive cruise control and hill-start assist.

Audi is expected introduce updates to the e-tron plug-in hybrid and potent RS3 during 2017.

2016 Audi A3 pricing*
Sportback
1.0 TFSI (a) $35,900
1.4 TFSI CoD (a) $39,900
2.0 TFSI Sport (a) $45,900
2.0 TFSI S-Line quattro (a) $49,500
S3 2.0 TFSI quattro $62,900
S3 2.0 TFSI quattro (a) $62,900
Sedan
1.4 TFSI CoD (a) $41,500
2.0 TFSI Sport (a) $47,500
2.0 TFSI S-Line quattro (a) $51,100
S3 2.0 TFSI quattro $64,500
S3 2.0 TFSI quattro (a) $64,500
Cabriolet
1.4 TFSI CoD (a) $49,000
2.0 TFSI Sport (a) $55,000
2.0 TFSI Sport quattro (a) $58,600
S3 2.0 TFSI quattro (a) $72,000
*Excludes on-road costs

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