The latest generation Audi A3 is now available in South Africa. The big news is that the new A3's curb weight is almost 80 kg lighter than its predecessor. High-tech body steel and an aluminium bonnet and fenders results in a mass of no more that 1175 kg in total. Added to this, the luxury hatch boasts an all-new VW Group platform, top technological features and a range of new engines.
The new A3's ultra lightweight principle is expressed outwardly by a flatter, more masculine and aerodynamic exterior shape. There is a striking 'tornado line' along its side which, along with its coupé-like roof contour, gives this two-door car a fast and sporty look. The exterior mirrors are set on the door rails – just like on real sports cars. Audi's large single-frame grille is prominent on the car's front and dazzling xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights give its face a pleasing finishing touch. At the back, the tail lights are fitted with LEDs as standard and an integrated roof edge spoiler creates additional aerodynamic capabilities.
Buy a car like this and, according to Audi, you'll find a light, clearer and more forward-looking interior. By this they mean that the layout is clean-cut with driver ergonomics at the forefront. The instrument panel with 3D inlays seems to embrace the driver and stylish circular air vents are inspired by jet planes. Three trim levels are offered – S, SE and Quattro – with the level of standard equipment greatly improved over previous models. Optional features include an MMI navigation plus system with a 7 inch monitor and touch-sensitive control panel. Fine leather sports seats are available on request as well as a large panoramic glass sunroof that can be both raised and opened. The rear bench can be split-folded 40:60 and a height-adjustable loading floor provides even more space for luggage inside.
The A3's engine line-up has received a make-over too. There are a number of new powerplants added to the mix and all engines boast Audi's downsizing principle, feature direct injection, turbocharging and start-stop technology. With a choice of either petrol TFSI or diesel TDI engines, there is an Audi A3 to suit all individual customer needs and preferences. If you buy a vehicle in either of the range-topping petrol or turbodiesel engine variants you'll benefit from Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive system that seamlessly distributes power between the front and rear axles as required.
Audi has approached vehicle safety to encompass all levels of active and passive safety specifications. From its intelligent brake lights that automatically activate the hazard warning lights in an emergency stop, to its standard-fit dynamic suspension, to its highly rigid occupant safety zone with frontal crash and side impact protection systems and intelligent impact-sensing up-front sensors; Audi certainly leaves no safety box unchecked. Added to the list is Audi A3's powerful brake system, ESP (electronic stabilization programme), which networks ABS (anti-locking brake system), with EBD (electronic brake force distribution), ASR (anti-slip regulation), EDL (electronic differential lock) and the conventional hydraulic brake assist system. With so many features at play, the new Audi A3 is without doubt one of the safest cars on the road today.
Another feather in its cap, the seven-model A3 line-up comes with an attractive pricing structure. The 1.2 entry-level model is priced at under R270 000 while a full-house 1.8 TFSI Quattro S-tronic retails for around R351 500. (Prices are subject to change according to various factor so please consult your dealer for the latest price.)