Making its world debut in Geneva, the all-new 2013 Audi A3 provided a look at the kind of style and technology that will be heading to America when this next-gen replacement for our current A3 goes on sale here sometime in 2014. Audi will offer this new compact in several different body configurations elsewhere in the world, but for the moment, we're only slated to receive a four-door sedan version - although the five-door hatch could pay us a return visit at some point.
Despite adding about an inch of wheelbase, the exterior dimensions of the new Audi A3 are almost identical to the existing model. The most obvious change is in its more sophisticated sense of style. Inside and out, the new A3 displays a number of cues and content originally seen on its larger and more expensive stablemates. Equally important, an even more focused emphasis on efficient engineering and materials technology has significantly reduced its curb weight -- by a heady 175 pounds on the three-door hatch model - while increasing fuel economy.
Underpinned by the first production application of the Volkswagen Group's modular "MQB" platform architecture, the Gen III Audi A3 relies on a blend of aluminum and high-strength steel to reduce mass while improving basic structural characteristics. The A3's standard MacPherson strut front/multilink rear suspension, electromechanical power steering and antilock-dice brakes get augmented with a full range of dynamic assists, including ESC stability control with an electronic limited-slip differential. Models fitted with the optional/standard Audi Drive Select system feature adaptive damping and the car also will be available with up to an 18-inch wheel/tire fitment.
Audi spent a great deal of effort on refining the more-spacious cabin of the new A3. In addition its comprehensive restyle, a major bump in the upline standards and premium options should serve it well as it faces off against rivals like the upcoming Mercedes-Benz A-Class and the BMW 1 Series. Attraction, Ambition and top-line Ambiente trim grades as well as S line Sport Package offer plenty of personalization while upgrades like a new MMI (Multimedia Interface) system, navigation package with real-time traffic info, 705-watt Bang & Olufsen premium audio and Audi Connect with WLAN hotspot capability add even more distinction to the mix. The new Audi A3 also excels in driver assist features highlighted by standard Adaptive Cruise Control and features available side assist, park assist and Audi pre-sense collision mitigation.
When it goes on sale in Europe this spring, the 2013 Audi A3 will be available with a selection of new, more fuel-efficient engines, including 1.4 and 1.8-liter turbocharged TFSI four-cylinder gasoline engines and a 2.0-liter turbodiesel, however Audi plans to offer other conventional alternatives for the car and also is developing both hybrid and CNG-fired packages. Transmission choices include a standard six-speed manual transmission and optional paddle-shifted seven-speed S tronic automatic. While front-drive only at launch, the A3 will be available with Quattro all-wheel drive by year's end.