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Audi unveils first “ultra” production model: fuel efficient A3 1.6 TDI ultra with 73.5 mpg US

Audi A3 1.6 TDI ultra. Click to enlarge.

Audi unveiled its most fuel-efficient production model, the A3 1.6 TDI ultra. With 81 kW (110 hp) of power output, the Audi A3 1.6 TDI ultra consumes 3.2 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers (73.50 US mpg). This equates to 85 grams of CO2 emissions per kilometer (137 g/mile).

This latest A3 is not only the most efficient Audi, it is also the brand’s first model designated as “ultra”. The ultra designation expresses Audi’s commitment to systematic sustainability concerning production and products. Along with Audi’s e-tron plug-in hybrid models and g-tron models powered by natural gas, ultra vehicles will constitute a third category in the brand’s portfolio of cars offering sustainable, everyday mobility.

The car has a top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph) and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 10.5 seconds. The 50-liter (13.21 US gallons) fuel tank facilitates trips in excess of 1,500 kilometers (932.06 miles).

Available as a three-door compact or a five-door Sportback, the A3 1.6 TDI ultra weighs 1,205 kilograms (2,657 lb). Aerodynamics were enhanced not only by the S line side sills, but also by lowering the A3 ultra’s body by 15 millimeters (0.59 in). 205/55 R16 tires with optimized rolling resistance as well as a longer final drive ratio further improve the efficiency of the A3 1.6 TDI ultra. Among the optimizations to the engine is a higher injection pressure (2,000 bar).

The Audi A3 1.6 TDI ultra is now on sale in Germany, with delivery starting in September. Base price in Germany will be €25,200 (US$33,453).

In coming months, Audi will unveil ultra versions in other model lines featuring TDI and TFSI engines. Like the Audi A3 1.6 TDI ultra, they too will focus on reducing fuel consumption and emissions.



Stick that alongside the Golf Blue Motion and you have an idea of the state of the art for mid sized European cars.

However, I think you'd be lucky to get 73 mpg out of it - 50 mpg would be more like it in "real" usage.


Less weight and more technology is a winning combination?

Thomas Pedersen

About real-world gas mileage.

In order to achieve the impressive figures of modern frugal diesels you have to strictly adhere to the 'rules' of eco-driving; respect speed limits, avoid breaking, anticipate what is coming ahead and clock a good amount of extra-urban miles at 50-60 mph.

With the American urban driving style it will be impossible to reach those figures. Hybrids probably come closer because they do not 'suffer' as much from strong acceleration and braking as these eco-diesels do.

The 10.5 second acceleration is a bit slow for me. I wish they would offer the 2.0 TDI with the same fuel saving features, and possibly an even higher final drive ratio.


An HEV with this engine may be interesting?


Well, well, imagine that. Harvey actually is starting to agree that hybrid diesel is the way to go. Its been years ...

Yes, when a 1.6 plain diesel gets 73.5mpg, imagine what a 1.2 hybrid diesel could do. And these are real and practical cars for 2 adults and 2 children. If it is just for 1-2 persons, the VW XL1 show how you can get 260 mpg with a hybrid diesel.

Thomas Pedersen, right on. The average North American driver still has a driving style that is horribly wasteful. They accelerate and brake at a frequency (number of times per minute or per mile) that is much higher than what is seen in Europe. And they also accelerate harder and brake harder.

Another observation I have made is the space-claiming behavior of the American drivers. If they see an open section of road in front of them, they will obsessively accelerate into it to "claim" the space, even of it means they will have to slow down again or stop as a result.This wastes energy and is detrimental to the smooth flow of traffic. In the end it takes longer for everyone to get to their destination. I wish they would not.

Space-claiming behaviors level appears to be inverse proportional to average educational level, as seen by comparing average driving styles in East San Jose with same in Palo Alto, say. One could get into the psychology underlying this phenomenon, but maybe not today.


Thomas, it's not just "the American urban driving style" that will make it impossible to reach those figures.

Thomas Pedersen

ai vin,

Right. Don't know about the conspiracy theory. But anyway, with the square grid layout of American cities - resulting invariably in stop-n-go traffic, combined with powerful cars that get accelerated fast, you stand little chance of reaching the European mileage figures without getting into fender benders and/or extended middle fingers. At least not judging from where I have driven.

To be fair, most people in Europe don't get it either, when you coast down to a red light with the hopes of it turning green before you have stopped completely.

About city layout. The square grid is quite ubiquitous in the US. And among its merits is maximizing the number of intersections.

The European grids are mostly overlaid roads that were put in place hundreds of years ago, but where city planning has been put to use, you see a spiderweb layout.

In my mind, the optimum layout would be something resembling the artery system om the human body. Something that takes you on gentle bifurcations without slowing down on major roads until you get very close to your destination. And no intersections! Now, the artery system only goes one way, and I have not figured out how to get back ;-)

Back to the square grid system, which can be improved on greatly by closing off two out of three (or more) roads before a intersection for major roads. Major roads should not be intersected a lot. Except maybe to merge onto a road via a protected right turn.


I agree completely with everything you said!

But even a small 50 Nm e-motor assist to the 1.6 diesel would allow it to stay in high gear and get over hills (in rolling hill landscape - as where I live = fun to drive :-D) without downshift. And/or allow higher final drive ratio while being able to accelerate gently by way of the e-motor. I imagine this kind of e-motor assist will trickle down from top-of-the-line hybrids over the next decade or so.

E-motor assist is just as useful for down-speeding as down-sizing. But with down-speeding you get almost the same fuel economy benefit without sacrificing maximum sustained power (for hill climbing or German Autobahn driving).


I really, really wish that the authors of these articles would not just convert liters per 100 Km to mpg but would convert the European (or Japanese) numbers to an estimated EPA mpg. The headline grabbing 73 mpg would probably be closer to 58 mpg which is still impressive.

Thomas Pedersen


There is no direct conversion that can be performed. Different ratios of acceleration, idling, low/high speed driving impact different vehicles differently. It is not until an official EPA test has been performed that the number is known. Well, I assume Audi knows the numbers, but they may not be considering bringing this model to the US. Could be that they do not have a SCR catalyst made for the 1.6 TDI?


I agree… Of course VW/Audi could make a calculation/simulation for the US EPA test cycle that would be very, very close to actual test data. However, what would this information be worth if they will not market the car with this engine in the USA anyway? For a market launch, they would of course have to make real tests after all. This does not seem to be the case today. The new VW-developed 1.6 and 2.0 TDI engines are from the same engine family. VW offers both NOx storage and SCR catalysts as options and, since the engines are modular; I can see no reason as to why SCR could not be offered on both engines. However, I think that the NOx storage catalyst is preferred for the smaller engine displacement, simply because it is cheaper. Since VW could fulfil US Tier II regulations already with NOx storage catalyst on the old 2.0-liter VW Golf engine, I can see no reason why this could not be done on a smaller engine in a similar sized car (Audi A3). Higher exhaust temperatures – i.e. a feature of smaller engine size – generally increases NOx conversion rate. SCR might reduce NOx further compared to a NOx storage catalyst, particularly on a bigger engine, but why implement a more expensive technology on the smaller engine if you do not need it? The US market would probably prefer a more powerful engine in the Audi A3 than the 1.6-liter engine, since it is supposed to be a premium car. To reduce the number of options, VW/Audi might chose to skip the 1.6-liter engine totally on the US market. Thus, I would guess that the likelihood that you would see this engine in the USA is very small.


Thomas, I've got two websites for you. They take a different view, instead of making it easier to move around by car so as to improve mpg, they want to make it easier to move around without a car. Take your time going through the pages;




Jus7... the efficiency gap between same size Diesel vehicles and up-to-date gasoline ICE vehicles is getting samller.

Since gasoline ICEs are normally lighter, the net total cost over normal life time may not be so different.

Many diesels still have an environment problem to solve.


Harvey - Gasoline direct injection (GDI) is the technology with the environmental problems, mostly in the high emission rate of particles (not much better than unfiltered diesel engines), and that technology (GDI) is what's being used to try to decrease the efficiency gap between gasoline and diesel. Even then, the reduction in the efficiency gap hasn't materialized as much as has been advertised.

The absolute price gap between diesel hybrid and gasoline hybrid shouldn't be significantly different than the price gap between conventional gasoline and diesel vehicles, and the relative price gap should be somewhat smaller if the price of the hybrid systems is similar for each technology.

James Douglas

Get this to Tier 2 bin 5 EPA specs and bring it to the USA I would buy one cash at $33K but to hit T2B5 would take SCR and Urea injections plus an DOC cat i'm guessing it already has a DPF for Euro6 adding all that emission control will suck 10mpg at least off the figures. still high 50s real world in the engineering and style of an Audi yup I would buy one cash on sight.


VW 4-cylinder engines of this family (1.6 & 2.0) can meet Tier 2 Bin 5. They did this already with the previous engine family using only DPF and NOx storage catalyst. If you read my previous contribution, you will find that SCR is not needed. A DPF and NOx storage catalyst is already in the package for the new 1.6-liter engine, so no fuel penalty compared to the numbers in the article would be the case. The only issue to discuss is what the mpg figures would be if the US drive cycle was used instead of NEDC.

If they do not introduce this engine in the USA there are other considerations that meeting emission limits.

Fred Schumacher

A lot of discussion about not meeting estimated MPG figures in real world driving. I've had the opposite experience. Every car I've driven, I exceed EPA estimates, and I don't do any hypermiling. Latest example is my 10 year old 5-speed Dodge Neon. EPA is 25 city/ 28 combined/ 32 highway. Even in winter I don't do that poorly. I calibrate and log my fill ups, and my real world experience is 30 city/ 37 combined/42 highway. Several times I've managed 45 mpg on road trips.

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