There will be some grumpy folk this week in Stuttgart and Munich with news Audi has launched the slick all-new A3 Sportback priced from $35,600.
News like that wouldn’t be well received at the HQs of Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
Not that Audi cares - the all-new A3 Sportback comes to market bristling with the latest Audi luxury and technology, handsome looks and prices down for all models in the range of $5,600 to $2,800. In fact pricing for the all-new Audi A3 is so sharp, as well as customers who can’t reach the Mercedes-Benz A-Class or BMW 1 series, buyers of mainstream hatchbacks like the Mazda3 could be enticed to stretch.
In this business, when you simultaneously sharpen the product and sharpen the pricing pencils, consumers – and the competition – tend to take notice…so great work Audi!
Audi A3 Sportback Overview
This is the third-generation Audi A3 Sportback.
Audi has launched the all-new A3 in two trim levels – ‘Attraction’ (with either the 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine or the 1.6-litre turbo-diesel) and upscale ‘Ambition’ (with 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol or 2.0-litre turbo-diesel). All drive the front wheels via Audi’s S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Aiming to fight Benz’s acclaimed all-new A-Class head-on, Audi has pulled no punches equipping the all-new A3 Sportback. Even the entry-level ‘Attraction’ model boasts impressive standard kit such as leather seats, 16-inch alloy wheels, a beautiful multi-function leather-wrapped four-spoke steering wheel with paddle-shifters, 8-speaker audio with a retractable slimline 5.8-inch colour screen, Audi parking system and dynamic suspension.
The ‘Ambition’ model grade steps-up with extras like 17-inch alloy wheels, front sport seats, aluminium trim highlights, a multi-function three-spoke sports steering wheel, Audi Drive Select and a full-colour driver information system.
The full range is:
Audi A3 Sportback ‘Attraction’
1.4 TFSI S tronic 90kW/200Nm $35,600
1.6 TDI S tronic 77kW/250Nm $36,500
Audi A3 Sportback ‘Ambition’
1.8 TFSI S tronic 132kW/250Nm $42,500
2.0 TDI S tronic 110kW/320Nm $42,500
To boost the standard offerings, Audi Australia has developed six options packages ranging in price from$1,800 to $4,200. A couple of examples: included in the Technik package for Attraction and Ambition models, you get the latest MMI navigation plus system with MMI touch (you can write letters freehand rather than typing them) and the S line sports package brings a superb sporty look with a S line exterior package, 18-inch alloy wheels and Xenon headlights wit LED DRLs amongst the inclusions.
These models will be joined in September by the 1.4 TFSI with cylinder-on-demand fuel efficiency and the 1.8 TFSI Quattro versions. The racy all-new Audi S3 Sportback 2.0 TFSI Quattro is due early in 2014 and will be priced around $65,000 (that’s $6,500 below the current model which is one of our all-time favourite ‘hot hatches’).
And around the same time as the Audi S3 Sportback storms into town, the A3 and S3 sedans should be ready for launch as well.
Audi A3 Sportback Engine
As is the norm with most German cars these days, it’s an all-turbocharged engine lineup for the all-new Audi A3. ‘Attraction’ models use a new 1.4-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesel while ‘Ambition’ model buyers can choose between the 1.8-litre petrol or 2.0-litre diesel.
Audi’s 1.4 TFSI petrol engine delivers 90kW of power at 5000rpm and peak torque of 200Nm across a wide rev range from 1400rpm – 4000rpm. Combined cycle fuel consumption is rated at 5.0l/100kms.
The 1.6 TDI diesel is good for 77kW at 3000rpm and peak torque of 250Nm from 1500rpm – 2750rpm. Fuel consumption (combined cycle) is rated at 3.9l/100kms.
Stepping up to the Audi A3 Sportback ‘Ambition’, the 1.8 TFSI petrol returns 132kW of power at 5100rpm and peak torque of 250Nm between 1250rpm and 5000rpm. Combined cycle fuel consumption scores 5.6l/100kms.
And for the 2.0 TDI diesel you can chalk-up 110kW at 3500rpm and peak torque of 320Nm from 1750rpm – 3000rpm.
All drive the front wheels via Audi’s excellent S tronic twin-clutch automatic transmission with steering wheel paddle shifters for the seven-speed manual mode.
Audi A3 Sportback The Interior
Here’s a major consideration for your value comparisons – all Audi A3 Sportback models run leather seats. And every Audi A3 Sportback features a glorious steering wheel as only Audi can – four-spoke for the ‘Attraction’ model, three-spoke for the ‘Ambition’ or the F1-style flat-bottom model in the S line sports package.
As usual Audi provides a massive range of adjustment for those steering wheels and front seats so just about every driver will be comfortable (Sports seats in the Ambition grade get our vote).
Instrumentation is the normal Audi top-shelf layout with conventional gauges (nice illumination of set cruise-control speed) and central info screen.
And a special word for Audi’s latest ‘MMI navigation plus with MMI touch’. Or as Audi says: “A media centre with 64 GB of storage capacity, DVD drive and whole-word voice control”. The 7.0-inch power retractable monitor is just 11mm in thickness, has 800 x 480 pixels brightness and the cover glass is bonded directly to the surface of the TFT screen with no air-gap for outstanding vision.
But what we really like is ‘MMI touch’ which enables the driver to ‘write’ letters or numbers in the touch sensitive field on top of the controller wheel – brilliant!
Rear seat accommodation seemed extensive for this class – perhaps best-in-class in fact.
Cargo space is 380-litres with the 60:40 split-fold rear seat in-place or 1220-litres when folded.
Audi A3 Sportback Exterior & Styling
Photos don’t do justice to the all-new Audi A3 Sportback. Certainly the next evolution of the A3 Sportback genre which dates back to 1996, in fact every panel is new and it’s larger than the current model - 58mm longer in the wheelbase at 2636mm, plus slight increases in overall length, width and height.
And there’s more than good looks for the all-new Audi A3 Sportback – weight is down by as much as 90kgs (1225lgs for the 1.4 TFSI). Audi uses hot-shaped high-tensile steels in the passenger cell (on its own 37kgs lighter than the superseded model) and aluminium for the bonnet and front fenders.
In profile, the three-side window layout is retained, as is the sharply raked C-pillar. But a strong ‘tornado line’ (the creases down the side under the window line), another crease above the side sills and the large-ish wheel-arches all conspire to give the A3 Sportback a sportier on-road presence.
At the front, Audi again reinforces its reputation for delivering the best headlight designs in the business – wedge-shaped with curved lower edges and set-off brilliantly in the optional Xenon form with LED DRLs. The stone grey single frame grille with angled upper corners is Audi’s latest design
And the rear is again a sophisticated blend of curves offset by the precision straight edges of the roof spoiler. New-design two-piece rear lights accentuate the Audi A3 Sportback’s width and facilitate a wider tailgate opening.
Audi A3 Sportback On The Road
With the first frosts of winter gripping Melbourne, Audi sensibly sent us to Cairns, Far North Queensland to sample the all-new A3 Sportback range in much more comfortable conditions. And the cracking mountain roads around Mount Malloy provided ideal to exploit the limits of this remarkable German hatchback.
The entry-grade 1.4 TFSI Attraction was actually the last model we drove ($35,600 as standard although our car was fitted with three of the options packs). And it was the usual Audi excellence – a brilliant chassis, outstanding refinement at all speeds and handy acceleration from the 1.4-litre turbo petrol.
First-up for us was the Audi A3 Sportback 1.8 TFSI Ambition ($42,500 as standard) and it was our favourite. The extra rubber from the 17-inch wheels afforded extra sportiness through the twisty stuff and we particularly liked the sporty seats.
Our diesel A3 Sportback was the 2.0 TDI Ambition which meant it too got the extra rubber and sports seats. And that 320Nm of torque was great over the hills.
Audi A3 Sportback Challenges
We reckon the weather is perfect in FNQ – but some of the secondary rural roads are far from perfect. On some of the ‘sub-optimal’, extremely coarse chip roads inland from the coast we did detect some odd tyre noise from a couple of the Audi A3 Sportbacks we drove – even on 17-inch wheels.
Audi A3 Sportback Verdict
Our almost two days behind the wheel of the all-new Audi A3 Sportback cemented our thoughts: this is the car to challenge the A-Class for ‘Best In Class’ honours.
Audi has the specifications spot-on, petrol and diesel engines are beauties, the chassis is brilliant, rear-seat room is amongst the best and the prices are simply remarkable.
Yes we have a new addition to the ranks of Car Showroom Favourites – the all-new Audi A3.
Audi A3 Sportback The Competition
Trouble for the previous Audi A3 Sportback arrived late last year in the form of Mercedes-Benz’ all-new B-Class. We reckon the B-Class is a cracker and are perplexed when people still say it’s not their cup of tea in the looks department…what are we all still driving three-box sedans? Now however, the Audi A3 Sportback mounts a much better value argument against the B-Class which starts from $39,990 and offers 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre petrol engines as well as the 1.8-litre diesel.
And it’s more of the same for BMW’s 1 Series hatchback. We still like the looks even though people claim otherwise – although compared to its latest rivals, we do concede the 1 Series’ back seat is now looking ‘tightish’. Offering 1.6-litre, 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre engines (the latter the storming Mi35i) as well as the 2.0-litre diesel, the BMW 1 Series starts at $39,993 – a fair bit north of the Audi A3 it must be said.