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Driven: Audi aims high with A3 sedan targets

Booty-full: Audi’s newest sedan adds a larger load-space and more passenger room to the A3 range.

Half of Audi’s A3 sales in Australia expected to be sedan version


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24 Jan 2014

AUDI Australia predicts up to half of all A3 sales could, from now, be the slinky new sedan version launched this week.

Crucially, Audi is reporting no problems with supply of the Hungarian-made booted baby, which touches down this week from a sharp opening gambit of $39,800 plus on-road costs - a $1900 increase over the equivalent five-door hatch.

This free supply gives Audi a luxury not enjoyed by rival Mercedes-Benz, which is battling stock constraints and waiting lists on its hot-selling A-Class-based CLA.

The company projects it will sell around 4000 A3 hatches and sedans in total in Australia during 2014, with 2000 of these being the three-box version.

It’s the first time Audi has sold an A3 sedan, with the previous two iterations of the A3 limited to hatch and cabriolet configurations. While hatchbacks remain popular in Audi’s European heartland, the massive United States and Chinese markets prefer sedans.

The sub-$40k smallest Audi sedan is also more than $10,000 cheaper than Mercedes’ own $49,900 small sedan offering - a feature Audi expects to draw more conquest sales.

Later this year the A3 range will be be boosted further still, with the arrival of a soft-top cabriolet and hardcore S3 sedan, while the electrifying E-tron – Audi’s first EV in Australia – arrives in 2015.

While it may look visually similar to its Sportback (Audi-speak for hatch) sibling, the sedan doesn’t share a single panel, and has grown in all directions too.

Kicking off the range is the entry-level $39,800 1.4 TFSI S tronic, which generates 103kW and 250Nm from its 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine.

This version gets from 0-100km/h in 8.4 seconds, and returns very frugal (for a petrol engine) combined-cycle fuel consumption of 4.7 litres per 100km. That low figure is partly thanks to a ‘cylinder on demand’ system that cuts a pair of cylinders under light-load conditions.

The smallest engine in the range now has an aluminium cylinder-block and plastic sump, which has chopped 19kg of fuel-sapping weight. All variants have also lost 25kg of unsprung weight as a result of re-engineered aluminium suspension components.

Sharing a $44,800 pricetag and sitting in the middle of the range are the 1.8 TFSI S tronic and 2.0 TDI S tronic options.

The 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine is on offer for the more performance-hungry driver providing 132kW/250Nm with 0-100km/h coming up in a more sprightly 7.3 seconds, but despite the power advantage over the 1.4-litre, the 1.8 TFSI S tronic hasn’t developed a drinking problem, using a claimed 5.6l/100km.

The 2.0 diesel option matches the entry-level zero to 100km figure of 8.4 seconds, is the least thirsty of the range with a combined consumption of 4.5 l/100km and produces 110kW with a heartier 320Nm of torque.

For those with an extra $3000 to spend, the 1.8 TFSI can have the rear wheels driven as well as the front and an extra 30Nm of torque by stepping up to the flagship $47,800 all-wheel-drive quattro.

With 280Nm on tap, the extra torque more than offsets the extra weight of the quattro four-wheel drive system, bringing the 0-100km time down to 6.8 seconds, but pushes fuel consumption up to 6.6 l/100km.

The 1.6-litre TDI diesel engine is the only engine in the Sportback range to not find its way under the bonnet of the sedan.

The 1.4 and 1.8 TFSI variants have seven-speed versions of Audi’s double dry-clutch S tronic automatic transmission, while the increased torque of 1.8 TFSI quattro and 2.0 TDI options means they make do with six gears and a wet-clutch.

At the back end, the larger boot increases the load area from 380 litres offered by the hatchback to 420L, but that figure can be expanded to 880 litres with the 60:40 split folding rear seats.

The base 1.4 TFSI has the ‘Attraction’ specification, which includes 17-inch wheels, leather seats (with some leather-look panels), rear parking assistance, a driver information system, Bluetooth, air conditioning, two-way adjustable steering column, speed-sensitive power steering and cruise control.

All versions also get seven airbags and ESC stability control.

The three other variants arrive in the ‘Ambition’ level of specification, which in addition to the Attraction list of equipment brings Audi’s ‘Drive Select’ system, allowing the driver to select comfort, auto, dynamic, individual or efficiency modes.

Also included in the higher spec package are a selection of aluminium trims, sports seats/steering wheel and the driver information system goes from black-and-white to colour.

For those wanting to trick-up their A3 Sedan, for an extra cost, Audi is offering a choice of five additional packages.

A $2000 Style pack puts a twinkle in the A3 eye with xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights and a choice of two 18-inch alloy wheel designs.

The $2990 Technik package adds a little more in the way of electronic technology with satellite navigation, higher quality sound-system, all-round parking sensors and a reversing camera.

A Comfort pack adds electrically adjustable heated front seats, keyless entry, folding/dimming mirrors and an auto-dimming interior mirror for $2200.

The Assistance package improves the A3 safety features with adaptive cruise control, forward collision braking, lane departure warning and self-dipping headlights.

An ‘S line sport’ package adds a sporty flair inside and out with alcantara sports seats, flat-bottomed steering wheel, black roof-lining, xenon headlights, sports suspension and costs an extra $4200 with 18-inch wheels or $5200 with the largest 19-inch variety.

Some individual items are not included in any of the packages but can be specified in the normal manner.

A panoramic sunroof costs $1950, the stereo can be upgraded to top-notch Bang & Olufsen for another $1750 and LED headlights add $2950 to the price.

Metallic and pearl-effect paint finishes cost $1150 and upgrading from part leather “appointed” seats to full leather Milano trim costs $1450 for both sport and standard seat options.

The A3 Sedan is built at Audi’s Hungarian plant, which was expanded especially to accommodate the new model and is the world’s largest engine factory.

2014 Audi A3 sedan pricing*
1.4 TFSI CoD (a) $39,800
1.8 TFSI (a) $44,800
2.0 TDI (a) $44,800
1.8 TFSI quattro (a) $47,800
*Excludes on-road costs.

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