Little engine that could
Audi’s A3 set the benchmark in small cars, writes Graham Smith
WHEN Audi launched the A3 in 2004 it was quite open about its ambition for it to be a small car that people would aspire to own.
Audi said upfront it wasn’t out to become the volume leader in the segment. Its ambition for the A3 was to be the benchmark in the class.
THE A3 was the entry model in the fast-growing Audi range and that put it up against cars such as the BMW 1-Series, Mercedes A-Class, Volvo S40 and even the Alfa 147.
Though it looked less aggressive than its predecessor and was 55mm longer, 30mm wider and 10mm lower, there was still a familiarity about it.
The A3’s looks were underwhelming, but there was big news under the skin with innovations including new suspension, electro-mechanical steering, an innovative direct-injection engine and a direct-shift gearbox.
The engine range was made up of three petrol engines and a turbodiesel.
It started with a 1.6-litre single overhead camshaft four-cylinder engine that produced 75kW at 5600 revs and 148Nm at 3800 revs, and ended with a 3.2-litre V6 that offered 184kW at 6300 revs and 320Nm at 2500 to 3000 revs.
But the real interest was in the 2.0-litre FSi engine and the 2.0-litre turbodiesel that fitted in between the bookend engines. It was a directinjection engine where the fuel was vaporised in the combustion chamber and not in the intake manifold, as is the case with most petrol engines.
Audi claimed significant improvements in response, economy and efficiency for a petrol engine, which put out 110kW at 6000 revs and 200Nm at 3500 revs, and promised a 0-100 km/h sprint in 9.1 seconds.
The turbodiesel produced 103kW at 4000 revs and 320Nm at 1750-2500 revs.
The 1.6-litre engine was available with a five-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed tiptronic auto. FSi buyers could choose between a six-speed manual and six-speed auto, and diesel buyers got a DSG sequential-shift manual six-speed.
The DSG works much like an auto box, without the losses that come with an automatic transmission.
Audi offered two models in the A3 range, the entry-level Attraction and the Ambition.
The Attraction came with a choice of the 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre FSi engines, along with 16-inch alloy wheels, cloth trim, split-system airconditioning, eight-speaker CD sound, stability control and traction control. The Ambition was available with the 2.0-litre FSi engine and the turbodiesel.
Perched above them all was the Quattro Ambition with the 3.2-litre V6, all-wheel drive and DSG transmission.
On the lot
PAY $13,000-$23,000 for a 1.6-litre Attraction, $ 15,500-$ 18,000 for a 2.0-litre FSi Attraction (2004-2005),
Fuel miser: the smooth-running A3 is well equipped and frugal on fuel.