|The A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid. Click to enlarge.|
Audi of America officially announced plans today for the arrival in the US of the new A3 family of premium compact cars, with three body styles, five new engines and seven variants including its plug-in hybrid model. Audi first revealed the A3 Sportback e-tron at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. (Earlier post.)
This new A3 lineup begins with the A3 sedan, which goes on sale in the spring of 2014. The A3 sedan plays a pivotal role in the soon to be expanding Audi A3 family and will be priced from a base MSRP of $29,900. It will be joined later in the fall of 2014 by the Audi A3 Cabriolet; A3 TDI clean diesel sedan; the high-performance S3 sedan; and in early 2015, the A3 Sportback e-tron gasoline electric plug-in hybrid (PHEV).
|Volkswagen Group’s alternative powertrain strategy|
|At a sustainability workshop at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Dr. Rudolf Krebs, the Volkswagen Group’s Commissioner for Electric Drive Systems, said the group will “electrify all segments. In plants equipped with our standardized assembly kits and modules, we are able to produce cars on the same assembly line, bumper-to-bumper, with conventional, electrified, and CNG powertrains. This flexible strategy enables us to react fast and cost-efficiently to actual demand and thus reduces risks.”|
|Krebs stressed that the Volkswagen Group aims to become a leader in e-mobility by 2018. By 2014, a total of 14 models from the Volkswagen Group brands will be available as hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric, or battery electric vehicles, according to Krebs. A total of up to 40 models can be fitted with alternative drivetrains, including those running on CNG, as demand rises.|
|Lars Menge, General Manager of Product Strategy, Volkswagen of America, noted that Volkswagen has expanded its diesel leadership position in the US market, selling 72% of all light-duty diesel vehicles in 2013. In 2014, Volkswagen will launch the latest high-performing TDI Clean Diesel engine generation (EA288). Menge also announced that Volkswagen of America will add Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) to its lineup in the near future.|
The A3 model line will offer five different engine variants including the 170 hp (125 kW) 1.8 TFSI, 220 hp (162 kW) 2.0 TFSI, 150 hp (110 kW) 2.0 TDI clean diesel, and 290 hp (213 kW) in the 2.0 TFSI powered S3.
The 1.4 TFSI gasoline engine powering the parallel hybrid A3 sportback e-tron features a combined output of 201 hp (148 kW) and 258 lb-ft (350 N·m) of torque when the 100 hp (74 kW) e-motor is also engaged.
According to the ECE standard for plug-in hybrid automobiles, the five-door model consumes on average just 1.5 liters of fuel per 100 km (157 mpg US), which corresponds to CO2 emissions of 35 grams per km (56 g/mile). In purely electric mode, the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron achieves a top speed of 130 km/h (81 mph) with a range of up to 50 km (31 miles).
All engines are mated to the standard 6-speed S tronic transmission. The A3 line-up for the first time will now come with an available Audi drive select system. Audi drive select allows the driver to adjust throttle response, shift points, and the electromechanical steering effort. Similar to other Audi models, Audi drive select has four settings that include Auto, Dynamic, Comfort and Individual.
The new platform allows the front wheels to move forward by roughly 1.5 inches (compared to the previous generation A3) to provide well-balanced proportions, supplemented by optimized interior space utilization, and an improved crash structure.
The front suspension is a MacPherson strut design with A-arms and aluminum pivot bearings. It is joined to an aluminum subframe. The electromechanically assisted steering system operates sensitively and efficiently together with various assistance systems, while reducing mechanical drag for greater efficiency. In the four-link rear suspension for the gasoline models, which utilizes a steel crossmember, the springs and shock absorbers are mounted separately.
The electronic stability control (ESC) also includes an electronic differential lock. When driving through curves, it can brake the inside front wheel very slightly to help minimize understeer and improve traction.
The exterior of the A3 sedan has been completely redesigned and specifically tailored to meet the sedan preferences of the American market. The Audi A3 stretches 175.5 inches in length and has a 103.4 inch wheelbase. Combined with its 70 inch width and 55.7 inch height, its proportions are compact but very sporty and nearly resemble the original Audi A4 from 1994.
The Audi A3 line-up will also offer several advanced technology features which are new to the entry luxury segment, including the standard Audi pre sense basic system which helps detect when an emergency maneuver is being made and prepares the vehicle and its occupant restraint systems in advance of a possible collision. The Audi A3 also offers an optional advanced technology package, which includes Audi active lane assist, and adaptive cruise control with stop and go.
The modular infotainment platform in the Audi A3 line-up also brings several upgrades to the industry leading Audi connect service. Audi’s connected vehicle strategy targets features and services that enhance the experience for Audi drivers and their passengers by providing the benefits of access to information and content, when needed, through interfaces designed for the in-vehicle environment.
The new A3 family will feature the most advanced version of Audi connect including read aloud Facebook and Twitter alerts, access to more than 7,000 Internet broadcast stations, RSS news feeds and more. The MMI navigation plus uses LTE to deliver the tailored services of Audi connect to the driver. There are more than a dozen Audi connect services, including a text-to-speech function for e-mail and a dictation function for text messages (SMS). An accompanying mobile app will allow advanced functionality between the MMI system and smartphones.