August 28, 2003

The New Audi A3 3.2 quattro - Sports Character in the Premium Compact Class
Text and pictures courtesy of Audi of America

INGOLSTADT, Germany - Roll-out for a pedigree premium model with strong sports character: the Audi A3 3.2 quattro. Its powerful V6 engine develops 184 kW (250 bhp) and together with the standard quattro driveline and dynamic running gear, provides all the driving fun that the sporty outlines of the body imply. 

The 3.2-litre V6 engine, with four valves per cylinder, is the most sporty power unit available for the new Audi A3. As in the Audi TT Coupé and TT Roadster sports cars, its exceptionally good torque and power-output curves make it equally ideal for the latest, sporty Audi A3 model. It complies with the EU4 exhaust emission limits, develops 184 kW (250 bhp) and has a high, flat torque curve with the maximum of 320 Nm available at engine speeds between 2500 and 3200 rpm.


Clearly, this is just perfect for powerful pulling force at all speeds as well as fast, nimble acceleration - regardless of whether the driver opts for a manual six-speed transmission or the new, highly dynamic Direct Shift Gearbox DSG.

The performance figures are as impressive as one would expect: the Audi A3 3.2 quattro needs only 6.5 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h, and has a (governed) top speed of 250 km/h, making this new six-cylinder model the sportiest A3 there has ever been.

The twin-branch exhaust system helps to keep emissions to a minimum, but is not ashamed of being heard. This most sporty of A3 models can probably be identified by its sonorous exhaust note even with your eyes shut. Audi's acoustical experts have `composed' it to match the engine's sports potential, but without ever becoming objectionable.

The A3 3.2 has quattro permanent all-wheel drive as a standard feature, and can be supplied with a six-speed manual gearbox or the Direct Shift Gearbox DSG option.

The Suspension

McPherson struts with triangulated lower wishbones are used at the front. The suspension subframe is bolted to the car's front-end structure. The cross-member and wishbone pivot brackets are made of aluminium, which reduces their weight by 1.5 kilograms.

The anti-roll bar is pivoted directly on the suspension strut. This more direct connection improves its initial response, so that the dimensions of the anti-roll bar itself can be reduced which in turn reduces the weight of the front axle assembly by a further 1.6 kilograms.

The four-link rear suspension offers dynamic driving benefits on account of its compact construction and low weight. Longitudinal and lateral forces are absorbed separately: this permits high lateral rigidity for optimal sports-style handling and driving safety, but much greater longitudinal compliance so that rolling refinement is improved. 

On each side the axle incorporates a wheel hub assembly with wheel bearing, two track control arms at the bottom, one track control arm at the top and a longitudinal control arm. The three lateral control arms are attached to the body via an aluminium subframe that also carries the rear-axle final drive. The body is supported on coil springs and shock absorbers with separate mountings. 

The Audi A3 3.2 quattro has sports suspension, 17-inch cast aluminium wheels and 225/45 tyres.

ESP with Early Warning Function

An Electronic Stabilisation Program (ESP) of the latest generation ensures active safety reserves at all times. This traction control system has the following functions: anti-lock braking system ABS, electronic brake-pressure distribution EBD, anti-slip regulation ASR and engine drag torque regulation MSR, an electronic differential lock EDL, a hydraulic brake assist device and the extended braking stability system ESBS.

The enhanced control algorithm in the electronic control unit now enables ESP to recognise potentially critical situations at an even earlier point in time and intervene preventively whenever necessary. With its self-learning capacity, ESP monitors the car continuously even in stable driving conditions, thus adjusting the intervention point to the current driving situation on the road. This has benefits in two areas - safety and journey comfort. In critical situations, ESP can take effect much earlier, but does not do so unnecessarily.

The Steering

The Audi A3 3.2 quattro has servotronic power steering as standard. Sensors in the steering monitor steering forces and the speed at which the driver is turning the steering wheel; these values are used to calculate the power assistance required, which is then built up by an electric motor and transmitted via worm gearing to the pinion in the steering system. Another important value taken into account is the car's actual road speed.

When parking, the steering is very easy to turn, but as the car's speed builds up on the open road the driver feels the amount of effort increasing, to ensure that sensitive control is still possible. The system also makes it possible to absorb the effect of bumps on the road effectively. Another innovation is active return travel of the steering with intuitive zero point. As a result, sideways-sloping road surfaces or steady cross-winds no longer affect the car's straight-line directional stability.

In contrast to conventional power-assisted steering systems, this electro-mechanical steering consumes no power unless the steering is actually being turned. Depending on driving conditions, it can therefore reduce fuel consumption by up to 0.2 litre/100 km.

The Brakes 

The 17-inch brake system on the Audi A3 3.2 quattro sets a new standard for this class of car. The front brake discs are of extremely large diameter: 345 millimetres.

The A3 3.2 quattro is also a pioneer in its class in the brake actuation area. Like the Audi S4 recently, the new compact premium sports model has a dual-rate brake servo. This makes sensitive control of braking effort possible in all normal brake applications, with a boost factor of 1 : 5. If a panic brake application is made, however, the servo switches to the higher boost value of 1 : 8.5 above a certain braking pressure.