The Audi A3 successfully established itself locally in the premium compact class in 1998. With customer deliveries of more than 63 000 units over the last two decades, the A3 model range is a firm favourite in South Africa.
The brand with the Four Rings is now presenting the fourth generation of the A3 Sportback and the second generation of the A3 Sedan. The Audi A3 now combines sportier looks with an efficient drive. In addition, Audi’s successful model range also features a digital operating concept and numerous other innovations. Whether as a five-door Sportback, a four-door Sedan or a performance S derivative – the A3 range will be available for retail in South Africa from 1 August 2021.
Distinctive: design and lighting
The new A3 models feature compact proportions and a sporty design. The wide Singleframe and large air inlets at the front end accentuate their dynamic character. The shoulder of the body extends in a smooth line from the headlights to the rear lights. The area below is curved inward. This “concave” element is new to Audi’s design and puts a stronger emphasis on the wheel arches.
The Audi A3 Sportback and Sedan come in three trim lines. The Standard model offers 16-inch wheels and black detailing around the grille and air intakes. With the Advanced model, the wheel increases to 17-inches and the exterior detailing becomes chrome with Advanced line bumpers. The S line includes a modified and sportier bumper design, sports suspension, illuminated door sills with the S emblem and an S style spoiler on the Sportback.
The digital daytime running lights of the optional Matrix LED headlights are a further innovation. On the S line model, they consist of a pixel array made up of LED segments in a three by five arrangement that create special light signatures and make the new A3 immediately recognizable. The sporty and sophisticated design is continued in the interior with a stand-out and new gear shifter, aluminium or carbon inlays, striking wedge-like door handles, and an instrument panel with a black-finish look – new design elements which are generally expected from the higher vehicle class.
With the new S3 models, they display their dynamic design character from the very first glance. The front is dominated by the Singleframe with its large rhombus-patterned grille and impressive air inlets, while the housings of the exterior mirrors have a gleaming aluminium look. At the rear end, the large diffuser and the four exhaust tailpipes accentuate the vehicle’s sportiness. With quattro all-wheel drive, 19-inch wheels, red brake calipers and S model specific bumpers, suspension and other S details, the S3 models are impressive characters within the new A3 range.
Optimized: the space concept
The new A3 models offer more space and functionality combined with compact external dimensions. Measuring 4.34 metres in length and 1.82 metres in width (without mirrors), the A3 Sportback has grown by just over three centimetres compared with its predecessor. The height of 1.43 metres – without the roof antenna – and the wheelbase of 2.64 metres remained unchanged. Depending on the position of the rear bench seat, the luggage compartment holds between 380 and 1,200 litres, and the loading floor can be inserted at different heights. Upon request and in combination with the comfort key feature, tailgate for the Sportback and the Sedan can also be electronically operated.
The new Audi A3 Sedan is just over 15 centimetres longer than the A3 Sportback. All other dimensions are identical. At 425 litres, the luggage capacity is the same as in the predecessor model. The rear end and the large diffuser help the Sedan to achieve an excellent drag coefficient of 0.25.
Digitalized: controls and displays
The cockpit of the new A3 is wholly focused on the driver. It uses familiar elements from the brand’s full-size class models and is equipped with a 10.1-inch touch display as standard, which is integrated in the centre of the instrument panel. It recognizes letters entered by hand, provides acoustic feedback, and can be controlled using natural voice language.
The instrument cluster, which the driver operates via the multifunction steering wheel, is now also digital as standard. The optional Audi virtual cockpit plus (as part of the Technology Package) provides additional functions such as the large display of the navigation map. It measures 12.3 inches and enables three different views, including graphics with a sporty look.
Intensified: the infotainment
The MMI operating concept is powered by the new third-generation modular infotainment platform. Its computing power is ten times higher than that of its predecessor. It performs all tasks relating to connectivity, including telephony and the Audi connect services with LTE Advanced speed.
Individual settings can be stored in up to six user profiles – from climate control and the seat position to frequently selected navigation destinations and frequently used media. The DAB+ digital radio is included as standard and the online or hybrid radio is available as an option. Route guidance is particularly easy and flexible. For example, the navigation offers predictions on the development of the traffic situation and high-resolution satellite images.
The Audi A3 model range also ushers in fully integrated connectivity, the Audi connect portfolio includes a host of online services which offer advanced infotainment, navigation and Car-to-X services which take advantage of the swarm intelligence to service, safety and convenience built into the connected A3.
The new Audi A3 can be connected to the user’s smartphone via the myAudi app, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, as well as via the Audi phone box. The latter connects the device to the car antenna and charges it inductively.
Refined: the engines
In South Africa, there are two engine offerings at launch, with an additional option becoming available later in 2021. The A3 35 TFSI (1.4 TFSI), with 110 kW of power and an eight-speed tiptronic transmission, serves as the entry-level engine.
The larger petrol engine, A3 40 TFSI (2.0 TFSI) with 140 kW, follows with seven-speed S tronic transmission (only available from November 2021 onwards). The performance-led S3 TFSI with quattro offers 213 kW, 400 Nm and a quick-shifting seven-speed S tronic, the selector lever of which is now designed as a compact shifter and available across the range. The driver can push and pull this to control the basic functions of the automatic transmission.
Refined: the suspension
The suspension of the new A3 models – with a four-link rear axle for engines from 110 kW – is sporty and balanced, combining pleasant ride comfort with good dynamics. In combination with the Audi drive select dynamic handling system, the suspension is available with adaptive damper control (optional for the S3 models), which simultaneously lowers the body by 10 millimetres. Each damper permanently adapts to the road condition, the driving situation, and the settings in Audi drive select, creating a wide spread between highly comfortable roll motion and agile handling. With the sport suspension – standard in conjunction with the S line trim or optional with the Sports Package – the focus is clearly on dynamics. Due to the tauter tuning of the suspension and dampers and the fact that the vehicle is lowered by 15 millimetres, the new A3 conveys an even more direct contact with the road surface.
Well versed: the driver assist systems
Equipped with the optional Audi pre sense front, the parking assist, and the lane departure warning, the new A3 models help prevent accidents with other road users and offer a high level of safety. Further assist systems, such as the lane change and exit warnings as well as the cross traffic, are available also available.
Local packages: offering simplicity
The new Audi A3 range will offer the package concept as introduced on other new models launched in South Africa. The concept aims to reduce complexity when ordering a new vehicle, considering that a customer is generally faced with a long list of options to choose from. It classifies key options according to a specific customer need and offers a straight-forward value proposition that is easy for a customer to understand. These packages have been defined by a combination of customer preferences as well as strategic options which aim to highlight Audi’s uniqueness or technology enhancements.