It seems a done deal that the 2017 Audi A3 range will bring with it a three-cylinder option as a price leader when it launches here later this year.
The current Audi A3 range is headlined by the 1.4 TFSI model, which will be dropped as part of the updated range. That leaves a gap for a new model to fill the role of the most affordable A3… enter the new 1.0 TFSI model.
It won’t be the first three-cylinder offering from Audi, though – the brand has a 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit in the A1 range, which makes up a handy 28 per cent of sales, undoubtedly aided by its sharp buy-in price (from $26,500 plus on-road costs).
The A3 1.0 TFSI model won’t be that sharp – according to the brand they won’t be pushing to be the most affordable luxury-branded hatchback on offer – but it could well end up being that way, with a possible price tag lower than the current starting point of $36,500 plus on-roads.
And unlike the 1.0 TFSI in the A1 which can be had with a manual transmission, the A3 will be offered with an automatic gearbox (seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch) as standard. The current 1.4 TFSI model makes up 18 per cent of sales.
Anna Burgdorf, Audi Australia corporate communications manager, told CarAdvice at the launch of the facelifted A3 in Germany that the new range is yet to be finalised, and that the starting point could instead be formed by the bulk-selling 1.4 TFSI COD (four-cylinder engine with cylinder deactivation technology that can allow it to run on two cylinders under low load).
“If we don’t bring the 1.0-litre the 1.4 TFSI COD will be the new entry engine,” she said, suggesting the popularity of that engine, which makes up about 30 per cent of sales of the A3 currently, would mean it could be a good fit, too.
But reading between the lines there is little chance the 1.0 TFSI won’t be offered locally. The three-cylinder engine produces 85kW of power and 200Nm of torque, which is 7kW fewer but equal on pulling power to the 1.4 four-cylinder. It uses less fuel – 4.7 litres per 100 kilometres versus 4.9L/100km – and is just a few of tenths of a second slower from 0-100km/h (9.7 seconds vs 9.3sec).
The 1.4 TFSI COD model’s power outputs go unchanged at 110kW and 250Nm, with fuel use claimed at 4.9L/100km.
Both diesel engines will be dropped as part of the range update, too, though the cheaper version will be available if you really want it.
“We’ve effectively made the decision not to bring the diesel engines. However you can special-order the 1.6 TDI, but not the 2.0-litre,” said Burgdorf.
The sporty 1.8 TFSI will be replaced by a new 2.0 TFSI model, which sees a big power bump over the existing drivetrain. The 1.8 model has 132kW and 250Nm, while the new 2.0 TFSI churns out a handy 140kW and 320Nm.
Those figures push the 2.0 TFSI into warm-hatch territory – not to mention a lot closer to the Mercedes-Benz A250, which has 160kW/350Nm. That rival model is all-wheel-drive only, where the A3 2.0 TFSI will be offered in front-wheel drive or with Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system.
The 2.0 TFSI model uses a claimed 5.6L/100km.
Australian-delivered versions of the A3 e-tron will continue to be offered, though this time with a little extra power.
The S3 sold in Australia will see a minor power bump, too, up from 210kW to 213kW, while torque remains stagnant at 380Nm. That’s down on the European specs of 228kW and 400Nm because the S3 is tuned to “hot weather” conditions in our specification. According to executives present at the A3 launch, this lower power level comes down to cooling requirements during continued hard driving.
As well as all the engine adjustments, the tech specs of the A3 have been upgraded, too.
There is new safety kit, including the brand’s clever LED Matrix headlights that are designed to stop drivers from blinding oncoming traffic when using high beam (they’ll likely be optional on all models), while other bits include pedestrian detection technology, city braking, active lane keeping assistance, rear cross-traffic alert, and traffic jam assistance (a partially automated driving system that works up to 60km/h by keeping an eye on the cars ahead).
Audi’s Virtual Cockpit display is set to be optional on all standard A3 models, while the S3 and e-tron models may get the tech as standard in Australia. All models also get a new three-spoke flat-bottom steering wheel.
The model range will consist of Sport and Luxury line packages, rather than the existing trim lines Ambiente, Ambition and Attraction.
Estimated 2017 Audi A3 pricing and range line-up (to be confirmed):
The Cabriolet range will likely remain largely unchanged in terms of engine offerings.
Cabriolet estimated pricing:
Standard equipment highlights*:
*The base model will miss out items like sports seats and Audi’s drive select system, which will be standard on other variants.