What is Audi's plan with the A3? Audi is planning to introduce this new model line for the Indian market. But they haven't confirmed it yet. The coupe or the sportback won't make sense but what Audi is banking on is the A3 sedan which will roll out later this year. Too early then to speculate what the sedan will feel like, but the coupe I drove is a strong indicator of what is to come.
First off, the design, on which the opinion is divided globally. The A3 does look impressive but it's too similar to the recently refreshed A4 or the new Q3. That said I love the stance of this car. I like the way it squats over its tyres and I even like the grille which unlike the Audi family of SUVs isn't large and overbearing! The slightly longer than two-metre wheelbase is adequate for the coupe but we know that the wheelbase will increase in the sedan and obviously so will the overall length. The slightly longer wheelbase will definitely mean more leg room in the rear of the cabin.
The highlight of the A3's interior are its features, they aren't just innovative but take design to a level which we have only witnessed in concept cars so far. Special mention needs to be made here of the touchpad which we first saw in the A7. That pad has been integrated into the jog dial and the surface of that knob now acts as the touchpad. Over and above all this, what impresses the most is the exacting machine finished look and feel of the cabin.
The A3 drivetrain employs a choice of four engines, two petrol and two diesel, of which both petrol and one diesel are entirely new. The 4-cylinder TFSi petrol engine options are a 1.4-litre with cylinder management that makes 140PS and a 1.8-litre flagship also the most powerful option with an output of 180PS. The diesel range has a 105PS 1.6-litre TDi and a large 2-litre TDi with 150 horses. Quattro is standard across the range and power is delivered to all four wheels through a choice of either 6-/7-speed manual or automatic S Tronic transmissions.
This A3 is lighter than its predecessor, in fact weight has been trimmed by 80kg and has brought the kerb weight to the levels when the A3 was first launched in 1996. The benefits of course can be experienced through the efficiency of the A3. Audi claims, for instance, that the 1.4-litre TFSi should give an average efficiency of around 20kmpl. The lightweight character also improves ride quality and handling. On both aspects the A3 can prove to have just the right setup for Indian conditions. The electromechanical steering is light and makes a world of difference to urban commuting. It also gets heavier and more direct as speeds rise.
The big question then is does the A3 make sense for India? It will if Audi manufactures it in India to keep the pricing competitive. Without the pricing Audi won't be able to sell it in respectable numbers.