AT A GLANCE
Germany. The 1.0-litre TSFI turbocharged petrol engine, as used in the smaller A1, produces just 5kW less power than the current 1.4 but delivers the same amount of torque. At the same time it uses less fuel and is likely to cost considerably less, otherwise it wouldn’t be under consideration. The price reduction is likely to be in the order of $2000.
Even if Audi Australia signs off on the three-pot, it could be a hard sell in a market where Aussies love their V8s.
The rival BMW 1 Series starts with a three-cylinder engine, though with larger displacement and higher outputs.
“I think it might be all about the drive,” says Audi’s Anna Burgdorf. “I think if we really do make it a price leader, which it is built up to be, then there’s definite potential for it — in the A1 (the triple) is 30 per cent of the take up, which is strong.”
Along with the demise of the standard 1.4, the current 1.8 will make way for a more powerful 2.0-litre. The 1.4 COD (cylinder on demand deactivation) and the hybrid e-Tron carry over.
Having notched few sales, both diesels have been dropped, although the 1.6 is available on special order.
The A3 comes as a hatch (called Sportback), sedan and cabriolet. The hatch is cheapest and will be the model that gets the 1.0-litre engine if it comes.
The sporty S3 has once again fallen foul of Audi’s hot climate restrictions and gets just 3kW more and no extra torque.
For transmissions, the 1.4 and 140kW 2.0 team with a new “wet” seven-speed twin clutch S tronic automatic, able to handle higher outputs. The e-Tron and S3 retain the current six-speed.
The 1.4 and S3 have a sixspeed manual option, while S3 also gets all-wheel drive. What’s the tiddler go like? Not bad, but we’ll reserve judgment until we drive one on Aussie roads. We put the cars through their paces outside Munich. It poured but we weren’t there to hurl the car around a racetrack.
With 85kW of power, compared to the 1.4’s 90kW (though the common torque figure is 200Nm), the threecylinder is slower off the mark at 9.7 seconds to 100km/h.
It lacks the punch of the 140kW 2.0 litre that we also drove yet it’s far from disappointing. You’d be hard pressed to tell the difference, cruising easily at 120km/h with 2500rpm on the dial.
Moving into the unregulated section of the autobahn (where you can go as fast as you like), the car kept up easily, with its top speed of 206km/h.
It’s flexible and responsive but the best part is that it sips fuel at a meagre 4.7L/100km. Where the 1.0-litre falls short is overtaking. Moving out to pass a slow truck on a secondary road, we just didn’t have the punch and had to pull back in.
The 2.0-litre, on the same AUDI A3 PRICE $34,650+ (est) WARRANTY 3 years/Unlimited km SERVICE INTERVAL 12 months/15,000km SAFETY 5 stars (previous model) ENGINE 1.0-litre 3-cyl turbo, 88kW/200Nm; 1.4-litre 4-cyl turbo, 110kW/250Nm; 1.4-litre 4-cyl hybrid, 150kW/ 330Nm; 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo, 140kW/320Nm and 213kW/380Nm TRANSMISSION 6-speed man/6-speed auto/7-speed auto; FWD/AWD THIRST 1.6L-6.4/L/100km DIMENSIONS 4313mm-4458mm (L), 1785mm-1796mm (W), 1409mm-1426mm (H), 2595mm-2637mm (WB) WEIGHT 1200kg-1395kg SPARE Space-saver (inflation kit in e-Tron) stretch of road, had no problems. It’s more impressive in every respect, but costs considerably more.
Apart from this the threecylinder feels and sounds as if it is working hard most of the time, a trait among triples.
Steering is light and accurate, thanks to the lighter engine. The car has a strong, centred feel when pointed straight ahead, eliminating any tendency to wander.
It was a fairly flat route and we were left wondering how the car would perform in the hilly countryside of Australia.
Pricing is yet to be revealed but Audi hopes to keep the figures as close as possible to the current line-up, ranging from $36,500 up to $78,900 for the fire-breathing RS3.
The new A3 will be launched in Australia towards the end of the year.