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Driven: Audi A3 runs on two-cylinders

Economy boost: The Audi A3 1.4 TFSI is now available with cylinder deactivation technology that improves fuel economy by 0.3L/100km.

Audi adds cylinder deactivation tech and Quattro to A3 Sportback range


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6 Sep 2013

AUDI has added a cylinder de-activation system to its hot-selling A3 Sportback range this week, making it the most fuel efficient petrol-powered premium small car in Australia.

With official fuel consumption of 4.7 litres per 100 kilometres, the new variant is well ahead of key rivals including Volvo’s V40 T4 turbo-petrol that consumes 7.6L/100km, and the BMW 116i and Mercedes-Benz A180 which both sip a respectable 5.8L/100km.

Audi has priced the 1.4 TFSI with the ‘Cylinder on Demand’ (CoD) fuel-saving technology at $37,900 plus on-road costs, marking a $2300 premium over the standard 1.4 TFSI model that starts from $35,600.

The CoD system deactivates the second and third cylinders when traveling at low speeds or coasting between 1300 and 3900rpm, and lowers fuel use by 0.3L/100km compared to the regular 1.4 TFSI.

Pushing the green message even further, Audi has lowered CO2 emissions by 6 grams per 100km over the standard 1.4 TFSI to a segment-leading 110g/km, which betters the official figures of 135g/km for the Benz, 132g/km for the 1 Series and 177g/km for the Volvo V40.

As part of the upgrade, Audi has given the 1.4 TFSI with CoD a slight performance edge over the standard model by boosting power and torque by 13kW/50Nm to 103kW/250Nm.

This variant drives the front wheels via Audi’s seven-speed ‘S tronic’ DSG transmission and improves on the zero to 100km/h time by 0.9 second from 9.3 to 8.4 seconds.

By our calculations, recouping the $2300 additional cost on fuel savings alone (admittedly, disregarding the extra grunt) would take around 500,000km of travel.

This is the first time the German luxury giant has incorporated cylinder de-activation technology on an entry-level model, having previously introduced it on higher-end sports models such as the S6, S7, S8 and the barn-storming 412kW/700Nm RS6 Avant.

Holden’s performance arm HSV also uses the cylinder deactivation technology on a number of its high performance models including the GTS sedan and Maloo ute.

Audi’s sister company Volkswagen offers the technology in the mechanically similar European-spec Golf, but this system is not currently available in Australian versions.

Audi has also slipped a Quattro version of its 1.8 TFSI into the A3 Sportback line-up, marking the first all-wheel drive variant of the third-generation small-car range. Pricing starts at $45,500 plus on-roads costs, a $3000 increase over the two-wheel drive 1.8 TFSI.

It also expands the range to six variants including the diesel 1.6 TDI and 2.0 TDI, and petrol 1.4 TFSI and 1.8 TFSI that arrived at launch in May this year.

While the 1.8-litre four-cylinder TFSI Quattro maintains the same 132kW power output as the front-drive version, torque is up by 30Nm to 280Nm at 1350 to 4500rpm and it is now 0.5 seconds quicker from zero to 100km/h, with a sprint time of 6.8 seconds, down from 7.3 seconds.

The all-paw warm-hatch is matched with a six-speed DSG and is currently the sportiest variant, until the arrival of the 206kW/380Nm S3 hot-hatch in December this year that can dash to 0-100km/h in 5.0 seconds.

Specification levels vary depending on the engine choice, with the more expensive 1.8 TFSI kitted out in Ambition specification, while the 1.4 TFSI is available in lower-grade Attraction spec.

Standard fare on the entry-level 1.4 TFSI Attraction includes dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control Bluetooth with audio streaming, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, leather appointed upholstery, retractable 5.8-inch colour display, rear parking sensors and 16-inch alloy wheels.

Moving up the range to the 1.8 TFSI Quattro Ambition includes everything from the Attraction but adds front sports seats, full-colour driver information system, Audi ‘Drive Select’ driving modes, front fog lights and aluminium flourishes in the cabin, while the 16-inch wheels are replaced with 17-inch alloys.

Audi offers five options packages on A3 Sportback models, ranging from a basic Style package that adds bigger wheels and LED daytime running lights for $2000 up to the S line sports package for $4200.

Sat-nav is available as a part of the Technik package that also includes Audi’s park assist system for $2990.

The two new variants maintain the same levels of safety as the rest of the A3 range and that includes seven airbags and a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating.

Since its launch in May, the A3 Sportback has proven to be a sales winner for the German brand, with 1183 units shifted to the end of August, a 47 per cent improvement on last year.

While Mercedes-Benz re-born A-Class continues to lead the segment with 328 units sold last month, Audi sold 242 A3s compared to 136 BMW 1 Series’ and 84 Volvo V40s.

Audi has sold more A3s in the first eight months of this year than it did for the entire 2012 calendar year, and this upward trend looks set to continue with the launch of the S3 performance-hatch in December and the A3 and S3 sedan early next year.

Audi A3 Sportback pricing*
Attraction 1.4 TFSI (a) $35,600
Attraction 1.4 TFSI with CoD (a) $37,900
Attraction 1.6 TDI (a) $36,500
Ambition 1.8 TFSI (a) $42,500
Ambition 1.8 TFSI Quattro (a) $45,500
Ambition 2.0 TDI (a) $42,500
*Excludes on-road costs.

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