A five-door hatchback is a Sportback in Audi A3-speak

A five-door hatchback is a Sportback in Audi A3-speak

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Audi's updated A3, launched in Europe last April, has reached the UK with new driver assistance systems and engines plus the usual 'mid life facelift' updated headlights and tail lights and other minor styling tweaks. The Audi 'virtual cockpit' is also available in a range that encompasses three- and five-door hatchbacks (the latter dubbed Sportback), a sedan and cabriolet. There are also sport S3 versions, and (not for the UK) electrified e-tron plus g-tron gas-fuelled models.

"With numerous driver assistance systems the new A3 raises the bar in the premium compact segment a bit higher," the automaker claimed.

It has further developed active lane assist and pre sense front, including predictive pedestrian protection. New in the segment is traffic jam assist which works together with adaptive cruise control (ACC) with Stop&Go feature. The optional system keeps the car at a safe distance from the vehicle in front, and in combination with the S tronic automatically sets the vehicle in motion again after a short stop. In sluggish traffic up to 65km/h (40mph) the traffic jam assist briefly takes over the steering on well-paved roads. Another new A3 feature is the optional emergency assist. This system initiates braking down to a safe stop if, despite warnings, no steering activity by the driver is detected. The new cross traffic assist rear warns the driver about cross traffic when slowly backing out of a perpendicular parking space.

Virtual cockpit

The virtual cockpit, already seen further up the Audi range, has now migrated down to the compact class. It displays the most important driving-relevant information in high resolution on a 12.3-inch TFT screen. The driver can switch between two views by pressing a button on the multifunction steering wheel. In classic mode, the instruments appear as large as the usual analog displays. In infotainment mode, a central window predominates that provides more space for the navigation map or shows clearly arranged lists for the phone, radio and audio sectors. Tachometer and speedometer appear as small round clocks.

The menu structure in the MMI system has been redesigned. Operation with its flat hierarchies is based on smartphones. The central feature of the MMI terminal is the round rotary push-button control, whose ring is illuminated in white in the top version. On its surface is the touch-sensitive touchpad for entering characters and for multi-finger gestures, allowing the driver to zoom in and out of the map. Above and beside the rotary push-button control are (new) rocker switches and buttons with which the driver can navigate through the newly designed menu structure. The further developed voice control for navigation, radio, media and phone now also understands many phrases from everyday language.

The MMI radio plus with the electrically extending seven-inch monitor is standard equipment. The optionally available MMI navigation and MMI navigation plus with MMI touch in conjunction with the 'Audi connect' module bring many online functions into the car. They include, for example, navigation with Google Earth and Google Street View, traffic information in real time as well as practical information on parking, destinations, news or the weather. They are transmitted via the super-fast LTE standard. The flat rate data plan required for this is included, thanks to the new SIM card permanently installed in the vehicle. The customer receives this embedded SIM (e-SIM) card with the Audi connect equipment in many European countries. The SIM card also allows roaming in most European countries. Independently of the integrated connect services, data packages for individual internet use via the Wi-Fi hotspot can also be booked.

The free Audi MMI connect app enables further services, such as online media streaming as well as transfer of a calendar from the smartphone to the MMI. For the A3 e-tron, services for programming the charging process, departure time and climate control are also available.

Cell phones with iOS and Android operating systems are integrated into the car via the smartphone interface. The phone box in the centre armrest wirelessly connects the cell phone to the car antenna per near-field coupling and allows inductive charging.

Styling

In the styling changes, the grille is more sharply contoured and wider and the headlights are flatter with distinctive outside contours. The rear accentuates the width with the horizontal lighting graphics of the rear lights and the separation edge above the newly styled diffuser. The colour range has been expanded. Twelve paint colors are available to choose from, including five new shades.

New for the A3 are modular trim lines. They give the customer even greater freedom of choice and for the first time also influence the details of the exterior. In addition to the base models, in the future there will be the two lines - Sport and Design.

Engines

The engine choice for the A3 comprises six units: three petrol and three diesels. Their power output ranges from 81kW (110hp) to 140kW (190hp). All A3 models meet the EU6 standard.

With the 1.0 TFSI, recently added to the VW Golf and Up, Audi for the first time offers a three-cylinder engine in the A3. This compact engine provides 85kW (115hp) and delivers 200Nm (147.5lb-ft) of torque from 2,000 to 3,500rpm. Its NEDC consumption rate is limited to 4.5 litres per 100 kilometres (52.3 US mpg) – a CO2 emission level of 104 grams per kilometre (167.4g/mi) for the manual transmission model. The new entry-level gasoline engine is efficient at no cost to driving pleasure, Audi claims. It accelerates the A3 from 0 to 100km/h (62.1mph) in 9.7seconds, and has a top speed of 206km/h (128mph).

The 1.4 TFSI COD ultra comes with cylinder-on-demand efficiency technology, switching off two cylinders when that power is not required. The engine with 1,395 cm3 displacement delivers 110kW (150hp) of power and develops 250Nm (184.4 lb-ft) of torque. The average fuel consumption in combination with the manual transmission is 4.5 litres per 100 kilometres (52.3 US mpg) – corresponding to 105 grams of CO2 emitted per kilometre (169g/mi).

A newly developed 2.0 TFSI with innovative combustion method generates 140kW (190hp), and between 1,500 and 4,200 rpm provides 320Nm (236lb-ft) of torque. In 6.7 seconds the A3 with newly developed seven-speed S tronic twin clutch automatic transmission sprints from 0 to 100km/h (62.1mph), reaching a top speed of 244km/h (151.6mph). The NEDC consumption in combination with manual transmission is 5.5 litres per 100 kilometres (42.8 US mpg), with a CO2 emission level of 126 grams per kilometre (202.8 g/mi).

There is also a 1.6 TDI diesel with 81kW (110hp) and two tunes of the four-cylinder TDI engine with 1,968 cm3 displacement. The 2.0 TDI delivers either 110kW (150hp) and 340Nm (250.8lb-ft) from 1,750 to 3,000 rpm or 135kW (184hp) and 380Nm (280.3lb-ft) at 1,750 to 3,000 rpm.

The 2.0 TFSI engine comes with a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with wet clutch which supersedes the previous six-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Front wheel drive is standard but quattro all-wheel drive is available for the 2.0 TFSI, and for the 2.0 TDI diesels. The S3 has quattro standard.

First time in the segment: matrix LED headlights

Xenon plus units are standard, with LED headlights and, for the first time, matrix LED headlights optional as well.

Electrification/alternative fuels

The plug-in hybrid version, the A3 Sportback e-tron, combines a 1.4 TFSI engine producing 110kW (150hp) of power and 250Nm of torque (184.4lb-ft) with an electric motor generating 75kW and 330Nm (243.4lb-ft). The system power is 150kW (204hp). Full charging of the lithium-ion battery (8.8kWh) takes a little over two hours with a 380-volt three-phase current supply.

With the A3 Sportback g-tron Audi offers further drive alternatives: As an alternative to fossil natural gas, the compact five-door model can use Audi e-gas as fuel, whose production has a practically neutral effect on the environment.

Equipped with a 1.4 TFSI engine producing 81kW (110hp), the A3 Sportback offers fuel costs roughly EUR4 per 100 kilometres (62.1 mi). Range is over 400 kilometres (248.5 mi) in the NEDC cycle with natural gas fuel. When powered by gasoline, the driving range is extended by as much as an additional 900 kilometres (559.2 mi).

In the NEDC cycle, the Audi A3 Sportback g-tron needs only 3.3 kilograms (7.3 lb) of natural gas or Audi e-gas per 100 kilometres (62.1 mi), corresponding to 89 grams CO2 per kilometre (143.2 g/mi).