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There’s a lot riding on the 2017 Audi A3. The small hatch and sedan range is Audi’s best-selling car in Australia, accounting for 25 per cent of the German brand’s total sales. The A3 is also a market leader, holding the top spot among small cars priced beyond $40,000.

In fact, one in three cars sold in that hotly-contested segment – which includes German rivals in the BMW 1 series, 2 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class and B-Class – is an Audi A3.

We covered an overview of the Australian A3/S3 line-up a few months back, though a more complete picture of the range has been revealed during our first drive of the range at its recent local launch.

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With the updated 2017 range, Audi has upped the ante, with an expanded model line-up of 10 cars across the range.

While at first glance not too much has changed from the outside, a closer inspection reveals new headlight and tail-light designs (including a funky dynamic indicator feature), with minor tweaks to the bumper and a mildly reworked rear-end. The biggest changes, however, are reserved for under the skin, where three engine variants (including two brand-new options) and a new seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic transmission underpin the A3’s performance.

Leading the way is the all-new A3 1.0 TFSI Sportback, featuring a brand-new 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine that produces 85kW and 200Nm of torque while sipping a miserly 4.8L/100km of the good stuff (claimed). The entry-level A3 will launch an assault on the market with a starting price of $35,900 (plus on-road costs).

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Audi’s three-pot kicks off a three-engine range that also includes the 110kW/250Nm 1.4-litre TFSI COD (cylinder-on-demand) S-tronic and the all-new 140kW/320Nm 2.0-litre TFSI S-tronic which are available across the range. The 1.4-litre’s clever cylinder-on-demand feature helps keep fuel consumption down, with Audi claiming it sips just 5.0L/100kms. Yet, when needed, it can also provide some kick, propelling the A3 to 100km/h in 8.2 seconds.

Unsurprisingly, the 2.0 TFSI is more thirsty, with a claimed combined cycle use of 6.1L/100kms – and that’s of the 98RON good stuff. But that extra power adds a generous performance boost, with Audi claiming a 0-100km/h time of just 6.2 seconds.

Gone from the range is the six-speed transmission with all powerplants now mated to new seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmissions which comes in two specifications. The 1.0- and 1.4-litre engines receive Audi’s familiar dry clutch concept (albeit with seven ratios) while the new 2.0-litre TFSI transmits its power to the wheels through an all-new seven-speed dual wet-clutch transmission that has been developed to work with both front-wheel-drive and quattro drivetrains.

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For those still pining for the good old days of using a gearstick and a clutch pedal, a six-speed manual is a no-cost option.

Inside it’s all change, with a new interior design that can only be described as minimalist. It’s a clever take on the modern cabin. While cars have increasingly sprouted more and more buttons, switches, dials and features, Audi has gone the opposite direction with the A3, creating an uncluttered yet functional place while ensuring infotainment and connectivity features are not only maintained, but enhanced.

MMI (multi-media interface) navigation now comes as standard across the range, along with Audi Connect, the company’s 3G-enabled internet connectivity. And Audi’s clever virtual cockpit is available across the range as an option – although it does come standard in the higher-spec S3 range.

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The A3 range again features three body styles – Sportback, sedan and cabriolet – and all come packed with a host of standard features including stop-start, driver attention assist, Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, electronic stability control (ESC), ABS, and brake assist. The sedan and sportback models feature have seven airbags while the cabrio score five. Xenon headlights are also standard across the range.

Additionally, the Assistance package, a $1500 option across all variants, adds the full complement of active safety features including adaptive cruise control, preciseness front collision warnings, high beam assist, active lane assist, side assist, rear cross-traffic alert and hill hold assist.

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Interior highlights come in number of trims. The entry-level 1.0 TFSI gets cloth seats as standard while the 1.4 TSFI and 2.0 TFSI range score with leather-appointed (i.e. part cloth, part leather) seats as standard. All variants can be specced up to full leather interiors with racing starting from $1350 to $3000 spending on the leather choice (Milano or Nappa) and the model variant.

Audi has raised the small car bar with its new A3 rang. Its list of standard equipment is growing longer over the previous generation with Audi claiming additional value of $5000 (1.4 TSFI COD), $3000 (2.0 TSFI Sport) and a $7300 (2.0 TSFI quattro S line) over the outgoing range. It’s a list of equipment that could get buyers over the line in this already competitive segment.

The Audi A3 range hit Australian dealerships this week.

2017 Audi A3 pricing (before on-road costs)

Sportback
A3 1.0 TFSI 85kW – $35,900
A3 1.4 TSFI COD 110kW – $39,900
A3 2.0 TFSI Sport 140kW – $45,900
A3 2.0 TFSI quattro S line 140kW – $49.500

Sedan
A3 1.4 TSFI COD 110kW – $41,500
A3 2.0 TFSI Sport 140kW – $47,500
A3 2.0 TFSI quattro S line 140kW – $51,100

Cabriolet
A3 1.4 TSFI COD 110kW – $49,000
A3 2.0 TFSI Sport 140kW – $55,000
A3 2.0 TFSI quattro S line 140kW – $58,600

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