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Fourth-gen Audi A3 Sportback here in time for Xmas

New Audi A3 Sportback small hatch to inherit tech from bigger, more expensive models

5 Mar 2020

AUDI’S fourth-generation A3 Sportback small hatch has broken cover in Ingolstadt ahead of an Australian launch before the end of this year, ready to do battle with fresh, tech-heavy premium competitors including the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and BMW 1 Series.


Bearing an evolution of Audi’s crisp compact-model design language that debuted on the Q2 crossover in 2016 then developed with the Q3 SUV and A1 light hatch in 2018, the new A3 also incorporates cabin cues and technologies from the German brand’s bigger, more expensive offerings.


Incorporated with the matrix LED headlights are daytime running lights made up of LED ‘pixel’ elements that cast a quickly recognisable light signature and set the new model’s technological tone.


This continues inside with Audi’s latest multimedia system claimed to pack 10 times the computing power of its predecessor and providing two grades of available ‘virtual cockpit’ digital instrument panel with various display modes and levels of customisation, optionally supplemented by a head-up display that projects information onto the windscreen.


Six user profiles can be created to store climate settings, seat position, often-visited sat-nav destinations and frequently used radio stations or other media sources. There is also an always-on mobile data connection and on-board Wi-Fi hotspot enabling internet streaming of terrestrial radio stations if they go out of signal range.


Available car-to-X connectivity can help the driver ‘surf the green wave’ of traffic lights and more easily find parking bays, while traffic predictions and Google data including photos taken at points of interest, three-dimensional cityscapes and satellite imagery make for a richer navigation function.


Wireless smartphone charging in the ‘Audi phone box’ also boosts the mobile signal by routing it through the car’s external antenna and the device can be synchronised with the car via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mirroring or the myAudi app that can also enable Android phones to serve as the vehicle key.


Echoing the smaller A1’s dashboard design and similar in some ways to that of a Mazda3, the A3 has prominent driver’s side air-conditioning vents in pods either side of the instrument panel with the passenger-side dash fascia designed to look like one full-width vent, with adjustable sections at each end.


Acting like a halfway house between the rotary climate controls of most smaller Audis and the full touchscreen-based setup of larger ones is a new button-operated panel, while the multi-function steering wheel buttons and cruise control stalk are familiar to existing Audi drivers.


Meanwhile, upholstery made from recycled drinks containers serves as a nod toward sustainability.


A suite of standard and optional advanced driver assist and active safety systems inherited from high-end Audis such as the A6 will enable semi-autonomous driving when the right combination of adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist technologies are optioned and activated.


The new A3 Sportback has grown around three centimetres in length and width, to 4.34 metres long and 1.82m between the mirrors. Wheelbase and height remain unchanged at 2.64m and 1.43m respectively.


Boot space of 380 litres with the seats up is identical to the outgoing car, while 1200L with the rear seats folded is 20L down on previously. The boot’s false floor can be set at different heights depending on storage requirements and a powered tailgate with hands-free gesture activation will be optional.


Odds-on to be the engine used in Australian-delivered A3s is a 110kW 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol that is claimed to consume between 4.8 and 5.1 litres per 100km depending on the variant, paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.


A 2.0-litre diesel in 85kW and 110kW forms will also be offered in Europe, as will six-speed manual transmissions. From launch the A3 will be front-drive, with quattro all-wheel-drive variants to follow.


Suspension wise, Audi promised “sporty and balanced” dynamics with “pleasant ride comfort”.


Adaptive dampers will be optional, bringing with them a 10mm ride-height drop and various modes offering “a wide spread between highly comfortable roll motion and agile handling”.


On A3 Sportback variants specified with the popular S line styling pack, Audi will throw in firmer springs and dampers that yield a 15mm drop.


Audi Australia copped a 19.1 per cent sales slump in 2019 with 15,708 cars reported sold, but things are looking up this year with a 9.7 per cent uptick to the end of February and 2704 deliveries.


The progress should continue apace, with 25 new and updated Audi models and variants on the launchpad for this year.

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