|June 10, 2000
The Audi A3 makes a new entrance
It made its debut in the compact class in 1996. And it set standards in its market segment like no other vehicle of its time. The already proverbial premium quality of the Audi A3, its elegant body and well-defined dynamism determined the new trend of the day. Now, with even clearer lines, an upgraded interior and optimised technology, the A3 is forging ahead again, raising the standard in its class quite a bit higher.
The A3 introduced new values into a vehicle category in which common sense and economy had previously been the dominant selling points. The secret of its success: Audi took the standards it set itself in the areas of safety, quality, design and innovation from its larger A4, A6 and A8 models and applied them in the compact segment.
The extensive range of equipment and the large number of accessories offered for the A3 allowed customers, more than ever before in the compact class, to put together their very own dream car. Sporty quattro versions with up to 132 kW (180 bhp), the uncompromising S3 with 154 kW (210 bhp) and the five-door versions introduced in 1999 rounded off the wide variety of different models.
Since the market launch of the A3, around 500,000 customers all over the world, specialist journalists and automotive experts have confirmed the unbeatable consistency of this concept. National and international awards such as the "Golden Steering Wheel" and "Europe's Best Car", the "Federal Award for Product Design" and countless victories in comparison tests performed by the automotive press underline this. The persuasive power of the A3 is undiminished: just a few months ago a Brazilian jury of experts voted the A3 "Car of the Year 2000".
This lead now has to be maintained and extended. Audi has therefore redesigned many areas of the A3, carefully combining its still captivating concept with new elements. Purposeful evolutions, optimised material and finishing quality, new design and exclusive optional extras increase its appeal and dynamics.
Key new features offered for the A3 in the 2001 model year include:
The exemplary safety package offered in A3 models is still of the same high standard. The Electronic Stability Program ESP will be part of the standard specification of all versions available on the German market in future. The side head airbag system SIDEGUARD, which protects the head and neck areas of all outboard passengers in a side impact, is also available for all A3 models.
And, of course, every A3 will also have a fully galvanised body in future, the corrosion resistance of which Audi guarantees with its 12-year rust penetration warranty.
Form and function
The line of the Audi A3 remains impressive thanks to its perfect synthesis of clear proportions and compact dimensions, of sports character and elegance. Its body combines the simple functionality of a hatchback saloon with the assertive directness of a coupé silhouette.
It is a line that fits in perfectly with the characteristics of the Audi design philosophy, both in its entirety and in terms of detail. The A3 is unmistakably an Audi - at all times and from every perspective. And it interprets the face of the brand in a most original manner, calling attention to individual features in its own, new way.
A powerfully bold front end, the striking, sharply broken-off rear and the wedge-shaped outline: in the new model year the Audi A3 once again conveys a very typical sense of dynamism - even when stationary.
Yet the new design elements are immediately obvious at first glance. The dominant feature of the front end are one-piece headlights in clear glass, in which the turn signals are also integrated. The glass covers conceal new ellipsoidal-principle light units of a circular headlight design. These are good for the eye in two respects: they provide a refreshing visual accent and a much greater light output than conventional systems. The efficiency of the dipped headlights is improved by around 25 percent, their range by up to 30 percent.
Xenon headlights, for even brighter and more even road illumination, are available as an option for all Audi A3 models. They come as standard with automatic range control and a high-pressure cleaning system.
The Audi designers have also restyled the radiator grille. It now has four grille fins and bears the brand badge, the Audi rings with thicker contours than before. The plastic-coated bumpers in the body colour have also been redesigned. The optional fog lights are now integrated into the front apron. They clearly add further emphasis to the sports character of the Audi A3.
The white side turn signals are another new A3 feature in the 2001 model year. The handles on the side doors of the A3 are finished in the body colour, as are the mirrors and side rubbing strips. The right-hand door mirror is now the same size as the left-hand one, which not only makes the A3 look more harmonious from the front, but also improves visibility to the rear.
The emphasis of the rear end of the Audi A3 has also shifted, although the basic geometry of the lights and body components remains the same. The tail lights now have a brilliant white central section for turn signals and reversing lights. The handle on the tailgate is flush with the body outline. And it offers an additional functional advantage: the electric release assistance system "Soft Touch" facilitates access to the luggage compartment: a light touch is all it takes and the tailgate opens as if by magic. Intermediate locking of the gas-filled springs allows the tailgate to be fixed in two height positions - a practical feature, and not only for shorter drivers.
New wheels, new colours
Five new aluminium wheels have been added to the equipment range for the A3:
The range still includes the 6Jx15-inch forged lightweight aluminium wheel of 10-hole design (standard for Attraction) and the 6.5Jx16-inch cast aluminium wheel of 5-arm design. The 6Jx15-inch steel winter wheel is also still available.
A3 drivers will also have an even wider choice of exterior colours in future. Five new paint colours increase the individual design scope for customers: as well as the very dark Brilliant Blue (standard), the new metallic colour Crystal Blue and the pearl effect colours Denim Blue, Pine Green and Merlin Purple are available as options.
A3 customers will therefore be spoilt for choice with a total of four standard paint colours, four metallic colours and seven pearl effect finishes.
A car's interior is a combination of living space and workplace, communication area and place of recreation. Sensory well-being is equally as important for the driver as optimum ergonomics.
This wide variety of functions also results in a number of different requirements which a vehicle's interior has to satisfy. The ergonomic design and operation of functional elements has an equally important role to play in the specifications as aesthetics, where the emphasis is on visual appearance and feel.
For the new model year of the Audi A3, the interior designers have therefore concentrated their efforts above all on uniting these seemingly contradictory requirements even more effectively. They have devoted their attention to even the most minute of details, at the same time further enhancing the impression of the highest material quality and an optimised finish, which so typifies all A3 models. Aluminium applications on the gear lever, steering wheel, handbrake button and storage compartment in the centre console add a sporty but elegant aspect to this effect.
A new harmony of colours and materials is visible at first glance. The instrument panel, controls and the newly designed steering wheels have been matched in a new way, both visually and in terms of feel. The design of the gear and handbrake levers, which afford a particularly good grip, is also new.
A3 customers can choose from single-colour interior equipment in Black or Dark Blue and two-colour interior equipment in shades of Dark and Light Beige. Together with the new grain on the instrument panel surface and on door and side trims, which is particularly easy to clean, this colour scheme generates a real sense of luxury.
The equipment versions of the three lines will have a clear emphasis in future. There are new, attractive cloth designs for Ambition, the emphatically sporty equipment line, and for the elegant Ambiente versions. Ambition models can also be ordered with the Jacquard Satin combination, Ambiente models with luxurious Alcantara upholstery, both in Black, Dark Blue or Light Beige.
Exclusive Vachette Leather in four colours and the Vavona Amber wood inlays available for the A3 offer further opportunities for personalised styling and upgrading of the interior.
The centre console of the Audi A3 has been completely redesigned. It now has a cup holder, a double DIN radio recess and a new ashtray which opens at just a light touch. If only one radio recess is used, the other provides an additional storage compartment with cover. Audi designers have borrowed the controls for radio, heating and automatic climate control from the A4.
The A3 interior continues to be highly functional with five comfortable, full-size seats. Customers can opt for a three-door or five-door model, depending on preference and requirements.
Both three-door and five-door versions with front-wheel drive have a luggage capacity of 350 litres, which increases to up to 1100 litres with the rear seat back folded forward. The size of the luggage compartment on A3 versions with permanent four-wheel drive is also impressive: at 270 or 1020 litres, the A3 quattro is also able to perform more demanding transport tasks.
Even after around four years on the market, the range of equipment offered for the A3 is unparalleled in the compact class. This applies to both the standard equipment specification and accessories.
Take the seats as an example: the standard passenger's seat in the Audi A3 will also be height adjustable in future - an important convenience feature for the front-seat passenger. The handle for the longitudinal adjustment of the seats is now integrated into the front seat trim. The much-praised easy entry function - for three-door versions - makes it easier to climb into the back of Ambition and Ambiente models. When the seat back is folded forwards using the practical handle, the entire seat also moves forward. It returns to its original position when the seat back is folded back again.
Customers ordering the new sports seats will be rewarded with even better lateral support and an optimised thigh support (standard with Ambition).
Attraction, Ambition, Ambiente: these three equipment lines offered for the Audi A3 clearly reflect their driver's style. Attraction is full of character with 10-hole forged lightweight wheels, a four-spoke steering wheel and upholstery in Solo cloth.
Every detail in the Ambition line is distinctly dynamic. The package includes sports suspension, sports seats, a three-spoke sports steering wheel, and sports gear lever knob and gaiter in leather.
Finally, the stylistic feature of Ambiente is one of tasteful elegance. Alcantara upholstery and a four-spoke leather steering wheel, a front centre armrest and foldaway key with remote control central locking are just some of the attributes of the Ambiente equipment line.
Packages by quattro GmbH
Individuality and sports character: the Audi subsidiary quattro GmbH satisfies these requirements, as expressed by many A3 drivers, with its new equipment packages. As well as individual components, customers can also select complete solutions for interior and suspension.
The interior package offers a choice of Audi or Recaro sports seats - both with electric lumbar support. The interior is dominated by the sporty colour Black. The colour of the high-quality leather/cloth equipment contrasts perfectly with the light-grey dials in the instrument cluster. A three-spoke leather sports steering wheel is also contained in the interior package, as is the Driver Information System DIS and the easy entry function.
Those quattro customers selecting the suspension package can look forward to 17-inch cast aluminium wheels of 10-spoke design, with 225/45 ZR 17 tyres. The sports suspension is lowered and offers a wider track and a direct steering ratio; springs, shock absorbers and elastokinematics are all tuned for an enhanced sports performance.
Comfort and safety
Electric front windows are part of the standard specification of all Audi A3 models, as are central locking, power steering, tachometer, heated windscreen washer jets and electrically adjustable door mirrors. Illuminated air vents, which are easier to adjust in the dark, are a new feature.
Maximum listening pleasure is guaranteed by the symphony stereo, which can now also be ordered for the A3. This audio system with integrated CD and cassette player develops excellent acoustic quality, especially in combination with the BOSE sound system. Six high-performance speakers plus bass reflex and a five-channel amplifier produce a sound that is specially adapted to the acoustics of the Audi A3's interior.
The new centre console design now provides space for the installation of the navigation system Plus with 5-inch colour monitor. Apart from the central display of the Driver Information System DIS, the driver can also call up route information and a map display here. In addition, the navigation system Plus offers information relating to route and destination, such as details of hotels or restaurants, and map views to a scale that can be selected by the user. An optional TV tuner can also be added to the navigation system Plus which allows TV and video text reception when the vehicle is stationary.
The area of safety traditionally plays a key role at Audi. The A3 therefore also comes with full-size driver and front passenger airbags, as well as side airbags in the backrests of both front seats. Three-point belts with pyrotechnic tensioners and belt-force limiters for the front seats complete the restraint system.
The introduction of the optional head airbag system SIDEGUARD in 1999 was a first in the compact class. In a side or angled impact this airbag inflates in a fraction of a second, covering the side window areas and the A and B-posts almost entirely. The head and neck areas of outboard passengers are thus protected much more effectively against the consequences of a collision.
After a crash SIDEGUARD remains inflated for a few seconds longer so that its protective effect is also retained in the event of a secondary collision. The contents of the airbag are then released to make it easier for passengers to get out of the car.
A further safety feature in the interior of the A3 is the standard preparation for ISOFIX child seats. These offer their occupants greater impact safety because they are fixed to the vehicle body. Not only that, but this seat system practically rules out mounting errors. Several ISOFIX seats are included in the range of products offered by Audi dealers.
The high passive safety of the A3 body has been confirmed: the A3 was awarded the top mark of four stars in the Euro NCAP test - currently the toughest crash test worldwide. This achievement has spurred on Audi's safety engineers even more: they have continually improved the crash safety of the A3, down to the last detail. The best examples of this are the optimised structure of the front end and the redesigned pedals with modified crash kinematics.
Like its occupant protection, the Audi A3's active safety is also state of the art. In terms of design and tuning, for example, the running gear, is ideally matched to the engine's power at all time, allows high cornering speeds and an agile, precisely defined self-steering response: the ideal basis for high driving safety.
The A3 quattro versions with permanent four-wheel drive offer additional reserves as regards safety and driving enjoyment. As on the Audi TT, this drive system is based on a hydraulic Haldex multi-plate clutch. This is a technologically advanced solution that is ideally suited to the specific requirements of transversally installed engines. If there is slip at an axle, the Haldex clutch distributes the power flow in less than a quarter of a wheel revolution to the wheels with the better traction.
Four-channel ABS is part of the standard specification of all A3 models. The Electronic Stability Program ESP is standard on all versions available on the German market.
The version of the A3 for the new model year has sturdier anti-roll bars to reduce the side tilt of the body when cornering. Modifications to the springs and shock absorbers of the sports suspension have helped to optimise handling.
The sports suspension will be demonstrating its dynamic qualities even more consistently in future. It will thus appeal to drivers looking for the simple directness of sports car suspension, but who are not prepared to forfeit the space and comfort of a saloon.
The combination of quattro and sports suspension can also be experienced by TDI enthusiasts for the first time from the new model year: with the new 96 kW 1.9 TDI. Sports suspension on Ambition models provides an extremely attractive basis for this, the most powerful TDI in the A3 range.
The well-established four-cylinder TDI series with a displacement of 1.9 litres has been crowned by a new top-of-the-range version. This 96 kW (130 bhp) unit has a completely new cylinder head with pump-injector injection, modified pistons and conrods.
Revolutionary pump-injector injection technology has proved ideal for TDI engines with four cylinders and a displacement of up to two litres. It permits an injection pressure of up to 2050 bar. This enables power, torque and emission quality to be optimised simultaneously.
The new top-of-the-range TDI develops its peak output of 96 kW (130 bhp) at 4000 rpm. This engine's torque is even more impressive - the best in its displacement category: no less than 310 Nm are available at 1900 rpm.
The advantages for the driver are obvious. Even at low engine speeds, the TDI offers the kind of temperament and pulling power that would have been consigned to the realms of fantasy just a few years ago. This enables a performance which increases both driving enjoyment and active driving safety simultaneously.
Top speed and acceleration speak for themselves: the 96 kW version, with 6-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive, accelerates to 100 km/h in 9.2 seconds and reaches 205 km/h.
By contrast, its fuel consumption of 5.1 litres per 100 km (total consumption according to 93/116/EC) is at the pleasingly low level of much less powerful TDI engines. This corresponds to a range of over 1000 kilometres on a single tank of fuel. The emissions of this new engine with pump-injector injection are also satisfyingly low: it complies with the EU 3 standard, which means a beneficial tax classification.
The Audi diesel engine with direct injection, exhaust-gas turbocharger, intercooler, and oxidating catalytic converter is without doubt still one of the most successful car diesel engines ever built. The TDI engine has proved that in terms of the relationship between power/torque and fuel consumption, modern diesel technology is currently unbeatable.
For all its miserly habits where fuel is concerned, even the 66 kW (90 bhp) version is a real pleasure to drive: with peak torque of 210 Nm available at just 1900 rpm, the 1.9 litre TDI surpasses the pulling power of many a rival with a petrol engine of the same power output. Its performance in the Audi A3 can genuinely be described as vivacious: 0-100 km/h in 12.4 seconds, a top speed of 181 km/h and remarkable pulling power. However, the owner will be equally as impressed when it is time to buy fuel for the Audi A3 1.9 TDI: it has a total consumption of 4.9 litres per 100 km (according to 93/116/EC).
The 81 kW (110 bhp) version of the four-cylinder TDI sets to work even more exuberantly: it accelerates to 100 km/h in 10.5 seconds and reaches a top speed of 194 km/h. But despite this sporty performance, it consumes just 4.9 litres of fuel per 100 km (total consumption according to 93/116/EC). The four-cylinder TDI has impressive traction - its peak torque of 235 Nm is reached at an engine speed of just 1900 rpm.
A great deal of thinking has gone into the modified version of the basic 1.6 litre engine for the A3. A new cylinder head with valve control by roller cam followers further reduces internal friction considerably compared with its predecessor. Audi engineers have also optimised the friction of the remaining engine components.
Together with new engine electronics and an optimised exhaust system, this measure has helped to cut fuel consumption by 0.6 litres to just 6.8 litres per 100 km (total consumption according to 93/116/EC). At the same time, exhaust emissions have been reduced by 20 percent so that the Audi A3 1.6 now complies with the EU 4 standard. For owners in Germany this means a reduction in car tax and a one-off tax bonus of DM 600.
In the wake of these modifications, the engine's power output has also been raised to 75 kW (102 bhp) and its torque, by 3 Nm, to 148 Nm. The fact that response and noise quality have improved noticeably offers additional arguments in favour of this state-of-the-art engine - a convincing basis for the A3.
A range to suit all power requirements
Producing 92 kW (125 bhp), the 1.8 litre four-cylinder engine is the next step up in the A3 range. The five-valve cylinder head combined with camshaft control and variable intake manifold ensures an efficient gas exchange and clean combustion. This translates into outstanding performance (0-100 km/h in 9.7 seconds, a top speed of 202 km/h) and good fuel economy: just 7.8 litres of Super unleaded for the version with 5-speed manual gearbox (total consumption according to 93/116/EC). Torque of 170 Nm provides supreme pulling power in all situations.
The next version up the power scale is the 1.8 litre turbocharged engine with five valves per cylinder and 110 kW (150 bhp). This accelerates the A3 with manual gearbox and front-wheel drive to a top speed of 217 km/h, and from 0-100 km/h in just 8.2 seconds.
Its peak torque of 210 Nm allows a sporty driving style with very few gear changes. And a fuel consumption of just 7.8 litres of Super per 100 km (total consumption according to 93/116/EC) goes easy on the owner's purse as well as the environment.
The latter also profits from the engine's outstanding emission levels: both manual and automatic versions of the 110 kW A3 1.8T with front-wheel drive are classified according to the stringent EU 4 standard.
Those customers whose requirements are still not satisfied by this wide range of engine versions will find the ideal partner in the 132 kW (180 bhp) unit. The performance data of this A3 qualify it for the sports car league: a top speed of 228 km/h and acceleration from 0-100 km/h in just 7.6 seconds clearly exceed the usual figures in the compact class. Unlike its fuel consumption: this engine, which also powers the Audi TT, is content with a modest 7.8 litres of Super Plus (total consumption according to 93/116/EC).
Like its weaker relatives, it also exercises moderation in the field of emissions: the 132 kW version with front-wheel drive, with either manual gearbox or 5-speed tiptronic, complies with the limits of the EU 4 standard. The quattro with 6-speed manual gearbox, which has a top speed of 226 km/h, has no trouble satisfying the requirements of the EU 3 standard.
And last but not least, the top performance athlete in the A3 family is the S3 with 154 kW (210 bhp) engine. Combined with quattro driveline and 6-speed manual gearbox as standard, it offers uncompromising dynamism coupled with refinement for everyday use. With a top speed of 238 km/h and requiring just 6.9 seconds for the sprint from 0-100 km/h, it leaves even much larger capacity rivals in its tracks. Just 9.2 litres of Super Plus per 100 km (total consumption according to 93/116/EC) are not too high a price to pay for this level of power.