New Audi A3 Sportback cuts fuel consumption around 10% compared with prior models; up to 62 mpg US with entry diesel model; plug-in hybrid e-tron model in 2014
|Audi A3 Sportback. Click to enlarge.|
Audi’s new A3 Sportback features a lightweight design and an initial choice of one diesel (TDI) and two gasoline (TFSI) engines, with two additional diesel engines and one gasoline unit to follow. They combine multiple efficiency technologies – direct injection, turbocharging, thermal management and the start-stop system. Fuel consumption has been reduced on average by around 10% compared with the previous models.
The 1.6 TDI is the most efficient engine in the model lineup. The compact diesel, which is characterized by minimal internal friction, consumes on average 3.8 l/100 km (61.9 mpg US) when paired with the manual transmission. This corresponds to CO2 emissions of 99 g/km (159 g/mile). The 1.6-liter engine accelerates the Audi A3 Sportback from zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 10.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 194 km/h (120.55 mph).
The newly developed 2.0 TDI, with balance shafts that now rotate in the crankcase, is available in two versions. Performance data for the front-wheel-drive A3 Sportback equipped with the 110 kW (150 hp) engine producing 320 N·m (236 lb-ft) are 8.4 seconds for the sprint from zero to 100 km/h and a top speed of 213 km/h (133 mph). Average fuel consumption is 4.2 liters per 100 km (56 mpg US), corresponding to CO2 emissions of 108 grams per kilometer (174 g/mile).
The more powerful version of the 2.0 TDI offers 135 kW (184 hp) and 380 N·m (280 lb-ft) of torque. The key data (with manual transmission and front-wheel drive): zero to 100 km/h in 7.4 seconds, top speed of 232 km/h (144 mph), average fuel consumption of 4.3 liters per 100 km (54.7 mpg US) and 111 grams CO2 per km (179 g/mile).
Following somewhat later is the 1.2 TFSI, which with its aluminum crankcase is designed for low weight and minimal friction. It produces 77 kW (105 hp) and 175 N·m (129 lb-ft) of torque. Together with S tronic, it accelerates the A3 Sportback from zero to 100 km/h in 10.7 seconds and reaches a top speed of 193 km/h (120 mph). Average fuel consumption is 4.9 liters per 100 km (48 mpg US), corresponding to CO2 emissions of 114 grams per km (183.47 g/mile).
The new 1.4 TFSI in the A3 Sportback, which now also features an aluminum block, weighs just 107 kilograms (235.89 lb)—21 kilograms (46.3 lb) less than its predecessor. It produces 90 kW (122 hp) and 200 N·m (148 lb-ft) of torque, accelerating the A3 Sportback from zero to 100 km/h in 9.3 seconds on its way to a top speed of 203 km/h (126 mph). Its average fuel consumption is 5.3 liters of fuel per 100 km (44.4 mpg US), which corresponds to 123 grams of CO2/km (198 g/mile).
A second version of the 1.4 TFSI to follow somewhat later produces 103 kW (140 hp) and 250 N·m (184 lb-ft) of torque. It features the cylinder on demand (COD) system, which deactivates the second and third cylinders at low to intermediate loads and while coasting.
The 1.4-liter engine’s average fuel consumption is 4.7 liters of fuel per 100 km (50 mpg US); CO2 emissions are 110 grams per km (177 g/mile). Performance is sporty, with a time of 8.4 seconds for the standard sprint (with manual transmission) and a top speed of 213 km/h (132 mph).
The new 1.8 TFSI, the most powerful gasoline engine in the lineup, produces 132 kW (180 hp) and 250 N·m (184 lb-ft) of torque. It combines FSI direct injection with indirect injection and uses the Audi valvelift system to vary valve lift as required. The exhaust manifold is integrated into the cylinder head—a similar solution is also used in the two smaller TFSI engines. Key performance data with S tronic and front-wheel drive: from zero to 100 km/h in 7.3 seconds, top speed of 232 km/h (144 mph) and average fuel consumption of 5.6 liters per 100 km (42 mpg US) corresponding to 130 grams CO2 per km (209 g/mile).
Audi says it will quickly expand the range of engines for the A3 Sportback, including a dynamic S model and additional high-efficiency, low-emissions variants.
Set to debut in 2013 is an 81-kW (110-hp) TCNG engine for operation with Audi e-gas, a fuel that Audi produces itself in sustainable manner. (Earlier post.) In the well-to-wheel analysis, the CO2 emissions of the A3 Sportback TCNG are below 30 g/km (48.28 g/mile). The A3 Sportback e-tron with a powerful plug-in hybrid drive will follow in 2014.
Transmissions. All engines in the new Audi A3 Sportback are paired with a manual six-speed transmission. S tronic is available as an option with all engines. Depending on the version, the dual-clutch transmission shifts extremely quickly and nearly imperceptibly through six or seven gears.
The driver can operate S tronic via the selector lever or with the optional paddles on the steering wheel. Revs are somewhat higher in the automatic S mode, whereas D mode prioritizes taller gear ratios. When combined with Audi drive select (standard in the A3 Ambition), S tronic includes a free-wheeling function in efficiency mode that further reduces fuel consumption.
With engines producing up to 103 kW (140 hp), the power is delivered to the front wheels. quattro permanent all-wheel drive featuring a newly developed multi-plate clutch is available as an option for the 1.8 TFSI and 2.0 TDI. The hydraulically actuated and electronically controlled component, which can send the power from the front to the rear axle in just a few milliseconds, weighs significantly less than the previous unit.
Ultra lightweight body. Audi reduced the weight of the new A3 Sportback by as much as 90 kilograms (198.42 lb) compared with the previous version. Equipped with the 1.4 TFSI engine, the five-door model has a curb weight (without driver) of 1,205 kilograms (2,656.57 lb).
High-end components of hot-shaped steel in the occupant cell form a strong, yet lightweight structure. They constitute a large portion of the body and are a major factor behind the weight savings of 37 kilograms (81.57 lb) in the occupant cell. High- and ultra-high-strength steels are used in many other areas. The engine hood, the fenders, the profile behind the front bumper and the subframe for the front axle are made of aluminum. Together they save roughly 12 kilograms (26.46 lb) and thus improve axle load distribution.
The body of the Audi A3 Sportback is extremely stiff and quiet, as components such as a noise-insulating windshield reduce interior noise levels. With extensive fine-tuning that also included the engine compartment and the underbody, the coefficient of drag is just 0.30.
Chassis. The front axle has been shifted forward by 40 millimeters (1.57 in) compared with the previous model, shortening the overhang correspondingly. All of the engines are installed tilted backward by 12 degrees with the exhaust end facing the bulkhead. This concept is an element of the modular transverse platform (MQB).
The front axle of the Audi A3 Sportback is a McPherson construction with wishbones and lightweight aluminum pivot bearings. It is mounted on an aluminum subframe. Mounted on a steel subframe, the four-link rear suspension handles longitudinal and transverse forces independently. The springs and dampers are mounted separately. The two sport suspensions available lower the body by 15 or 25 millimeters (0.59 or 0.98 in), respectively.
The electromechanical power steering with a direct steering ratio of 15.3:1 is sensitive and highly efficient. Its drive unit consumes no energy while driving straight ahead. The steering works closely together with a variety of assistance systems, including Audi active lane assist and the parking assistant. The turning circle measures just 10.9 meters (35.76 ft).
The new Audi A3 Sportback will begin appearing in German dealerships in February 2013. The 1.2 TFSI will be available somewhat later for a base price of €22,500 (US$29,255). Audi expects it to appeal to a broad public; in many cases it will be purchased as a second car. The second-largest target group, however, is single-car households and singles up to the age of 39, many of them women.