The Audi A3 sedan is heading to Australia in January or Feburary with a price hike over its five-door Sporback variant.
The 2014 Audi A3 sedan will mark the start of a new chapter in the model’s history, adding a small (A-segment) sedan to Audi’s local lineup.
The European designed and built A3 sedan is expected to double A3 sales globally, with luxury small car set to have its success outside of hatch-loving mainland Europe, with countries like Russia, China, America and to some extent Australia, expected to take up the additional volume.
When it arrives locally, the Hungarian-built A3 sedan will come in at a $2-3,000 premium over the German-built Sportback, despite sharing the engine, transmission and a great majority of components.
In reality the A3 sedan will actually cost less to manufacture than the Sportback, thanks in part to being completely produced at Audi’s Hungarian plant in Gyor, which currently assembles the Audi TT.
The A3 sedan will become the first vehicle to be built from the ground up by Audi in Hungary, despite Audi’s two decade-long manufacturing history in the East European nation.
Audi’s Hungarian plant and surrounding facilities, which count more than 9,000 people as employees, benefits from Hungary’s highly educated labour force paid in the weak Forint local currency. The average monthly wage of a Hungarian is roughly 160,000 HUF or about $750 dollars (net pay). Making it a far less expensive country for manufacturing than Germany, which has a monthly average salary of $3,100 (net pay). Last year Audi made 20 percent of its overall revenue from the A3 family.
The Gyor plant is also the group’s largest engine factory, producing nearly 2 million engines per year for all Audi vehicles and others in the Volkswagen Group.
The Audi A3’s project manager, Frank Herrmann, admitted at the launch of the A3 sedan in Budapest that the lower staff costs were one of the reasons for the Hungarian plant but that in order for Audi sales to grow the brand needed to have more diverse expansion plans, with Audi already producing cars in China, with a second factory opening up next year, followed by another in Mexico.
Audi says the price increase from the Sportback to Sedan is to make the vehicle more exclusive but also because sedan purchases are a more ‘style-driven’ decision and those buyers are looking for something sportier.
The A3 sedan measures 4.46m long, 15cm longer than the Sportback but still 24cm shorter than the A4 sedan. It’s wider but comes in 1cm lower in height, giving it a more distinctive road presence.
Audi Australia is expected to launch with at least four engine variants for our market, mirroring that of the Audi A3 Sportback range. These include 1.4 and 1.8-litre petrol and 1.6 and 2.0-lite turbodiesel models. All four will be available in front-wheel drive, with 1.8-litre petrol also available with Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system.
All variants except the 1.8-litre quattro and 2.0-litre TDI will get the smooth-shifting seven-speed S tronic, with the two high end models making do with an older six-speed gearbox.
The base model 1.4-litre may come with cylinder on demand technology, which allows the A3 to idle two of its cylinders when not required. This engine choice may first debut locally on the Sportback, but is yet to be confirmed.
The range will launch with the 1.4 TFSI Attraction grade for what we expect will be under $40,000 and get closer to $50,000 for 1.8 TFSI and 2.0 TDI models in the higher Ambition grade.
Standard features for base model the Audi A3 sedan (1.4-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesel) include leather seats, parking sensors (but no reversing camera), automatic headlights as well as wipers, dual-zone climate control and bluetooth phone connectivity.
The A3’s 8-speaker multimedia system will also take CD and SD cards (up to 32gb) and can be managed via a dial that runs the standard 5.8-inch colour screen. An additional $500 will get you a 10-speaker 180watt sound system.
16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, a leather steering wheel with audio controls and paddle shift as well as a tyre pressure monitoring system are all standard on the entry model.
The A3 sedan 1.8 TFSI and 2.0 TDI, which will only be available in Ambition grade, are expected to cost around $45,000. The additional price increase will add 17-inch alloys, sports steering wheel and front seats, aluminium highlights around the cabin and windows, Audi’s drive select system (can modify the A3’s throttle and gearbox response and steering weight) and front fog lights.
Optioning up the A3 sedan can be an expensive exercise with numerous packages adding additional features. These are listed below:
Audi A3 Sedan engine details:
Read: Audi A3 Sedan Review.