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Audi A3 at 2012 Geneva motor show

Published: 05 March 2012

This is the new Audi A3, revealed on the eve of the 2012 Geneva motor show at the VW Group’s traditional pre-show party. This third-generation A3 is built on the VW Group's new MQB platform, is lighter than its predecessor, will eventually be sold in hybrid guises, and boasts high-end technology that even the Audi A8 limo doesn’t have.

So what should I know about the new Audi A3?

Let’s start with that weight reduction, and Audi claims that the new A3 is 80kg lighter than its predecessor, thanks in part to the front bumper and bonnet being made of aluminium, and thanks to the clever tech of the new MQB architecture. Mix this lightened A3 with some efficient engines and you get improved fuel consumption and CO2 figures – ultimately there will be a 1.6 TDI that will manage 74.3mpg and emit just 99g/km CO2.

In the meantime, the A3 will launch with two TFSI engine (in 121bhp 1.4-litre and 178bhp 1.8-litre guises) and a 141bhp 2.0 TDI. That most powerful petrol is mated to a seven-speed twin-clutch S-tronic transmission, a six-speed manual features in the other two, and all three send drive to the front wheels. Quattro four-wheel drive versions, and other engine variants including a 1.4 engine with cylinder deactivation technology will follow later. Audi claims that on average fuel consumption across the A3 range has been reduced by 12%.

What about the styling inside and out?

It’s a clean and uncluttered look for the interior of the new A3, with four circular air vents spread across the dash and a 7in sat-nav screen (only 11mm thick) that pops out of the top. The latter is controlled by the latest generation of MMI dial, with the touchpad that first appeared on the A8 now integrated into the top of the rotary controller.

The exterior is sleeker and sharper than before, adopting the stepped front lights that have recently been grafted onto the facelifted A4 and A5 range. And to give you that trademark Audi look, LED daytime running lights (complete with LED rear lights) are an option – full LED headlights will also be available. The new A3 is 12mm wider than its predecessor (at 1777mm), the same 1421mm tall, and 1mm shorter than the Mk2 A3, but the wheelbase has grown by 23mm. The boot has grown from 350 to 365 litres. A five-door Sportback model will follow.

Anything else? 

Audi’s Drive Select system lets the driver tweaks the set-up of the steering and throttle (and S-tronic ‘box if fitted), there’s 13 exterior paint colour to choose from, an S-line body styling package is an option (as featured on the red A3 in our pictures), and hybrid and natural gas variants are under development. Audi has also confirmed that work is underway on a hot S3 model.

Sales of the new Audi A3 commence this spring.

>> Click here for more news on the Audi A3 from our sister website Parkers

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy

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