The new Audi A3 will be landing in the UK in September this year, and is looking to bring an even greater premium feel to the competitive compact segment.
Improvements have been made to the build quality and design of the cabin, while the looks have also been freshened up. But the major changes happen under the skin, with redeveloped engines and a brand new chassis.
The new styling is exactly what we have come to expect from Audi, with slimmer headlights, a large grill and subtle detailing. You can order an A3 with LED running lights and these will be accompanied by rear lights also featuring LED elements. The rear lights sit on a heavily sculptured tailgate which looks to be inspired by the A1, while engine choice dictates whether you get one or two exhaust tips poking through the diffuser-style insert below the rear bumper.
The new A3 certainly looks familiar but some elements are new, like the pronounced creases in the flanks and small spoiler above the rear window. What is important about the new body is its construction due to use of aluminium and high strength steel the new A3 weighs 80kgs less than the old one. The base spec 1.4 will have a kerb weight of only 1,175 kg, bringing benefits to economy and driving dynamics.
The new A3 has a newly designed dashboard with several interesting elements. Firstly the control panel for the air conditioning now appears to hover over the centre console, while below sits the controls for Audis optional multi media system, the MMI.
A rotary knob allows you to explore the menus displayed on the MMI screen, which futuristically rises out of the dash when needed. Top spec models will also have a touchpad next to the MMI controller, allowing the driver to write letters out when putting information into the satellite navigation.
Also new are the aircraft-inspired vents on the dashboard and the use of an electronic parking brake, which ditches the old fashioned handbrake to free up more room between the seats.
One more thing to note the A3 will also include an optional heads-up display, which displays vital information in the drivers line of sight.
Three four cylinder engines will be available when the A3 is first released, two petrol and one diesel. The 120bhp 1.4 is the most economical petrol engine for the time being, achieving 54.3mpg and releasing 120g/km of CO2, while reaching 0-62 mph in 9.3 seconds.
The 1.8 TFSI creates nearly 180bhp in exchange for 50.4mpg and 130g/km of CO2, and will be the fastest engine available at launch with 0-62 mph in 7.2 seconds. Meanwhile if you need the economy of a diesel the 2.0 TDi reaches 62mph in 8.6 while combining 68.9mpg and 106g/km for cheap road tax and low fuel costs.
All engines choices will have the option of manual or automatic gearboxes, and for the time being all will be front-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive Quattro models will come later, along with a host of other engines, including a 1.6TDi that will achieve 74.3mpg. The A3 range will also include electronic, hybrid and gas powered cars, while the S3 will appeal to those drivers wanting extra performance.
The ultra lightweight case for the MMI screen is made of magnesium and only 11mm thick. The A3 hatchback will be joined by a small saloon version in markets such as the US and China.
Prices are expected to rise slightly, with the range starting at 19000 for the base 1.4 model. However, full pricing details are yet to be announced.
The Audi A3 has always focused on bringing a big car ambience to the compact hatchback sector, through solid build quality, classy interiors and state of the art technology. The new A3 doesnt hold any surprises but does continue this tradition, and with its clean styling and wide range of engines it should make a strong rival for BMWs newly released 1 Series, as well as the up and coming Mercedes A Class.
Check out our full guides to every new Audi on sale.