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Launch Pad: Audi A3 Sportback

0805 Audi A3 Sportback 1

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Reuben van Niekerk

The premium hatchback segment gains another competitor as Audi add the Sportback range to the A3 lineup, which was launched earlier this year. With two added doors and a slightly longer wheel base it takes of where the A3 left off.

The compact five-door model breaks new ground in terms of vehicle weight thanks to ultra lightweight construction technology. The engines are powerful and efficient with innovative infotainment solutions, including MMI touch, setting new standards in the premium compact segment.

While the length, width and height are only slightly greater than the previous model, the wheelbase now measures 2,636 millimetres, representing an increase of 58 millimeters. This makes the five-door model 35 millimetres longer between the axles than the three-door version, highlighting the flexibility of the MQB platform.

The design with the three side windows is taut and concentrated, with every detail precise and expressive. The distinguishing element at the front of the vehicle is the distinctive, single-frame grille with signature bevelled edges and large air intakes.

The sharply defined tornado line articulates the flank below the windows and evokes a powerful shoulder. The dynamic line above the side sills runs upward toward the rear.

The tautly curved surfaces, the large, precisely-defined wheel wells, the relatively narrow, sharply sloping C pillars and the understated roof spoiler underscore the sporty nature of the A3 Sportback, as do the exterior mirrors, which are perched on the doors.

The rear is extremely sculptured, and the split rear lights underscore its width. Audi offers LED rear lights in combination with the xenon plus headlights; LED light conductors appear to form a continuous arch.

The new A3 Sportback will be available with a choice of one TDI and two TFSI engines upon its introduction. They combine multiple efficiency technologies – direct injection, turbocharging, innovative thermal management and the start-stop system. Fuel consumption has been reduced on average by around 10 percent compared with the previous model.

The 1.6 TDI is the most efficient engine in the model line-up. The compact diesel, which is characterized by minimal internal friction, consumes on average just 3.9 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres when paired with the S tronic transmission. This corresponds to CO₂ emissions of 102 g/km. The 1.6-litre engine accelerates the Audi A3 Sportback from zero to 100 km/h in 10.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 194 km/h.

The new 1.4 TFSI in the A3 Sportback, which now also features an aluminium block, weighs just 107 kilograms – 21 kilograms less than its predecessor. It produces 90 kW and 200 Nm of torque, accelerating the manual model from zero to 100 km/h in 9.5 seconds with a top speed of 203 km/h. Its average fuel consumption is 5.3 litres of fuel per 100 km, which corresponds to 123 grams of CO₂ per km. The S tronic model performs slightly better, with a zero to 100 km/h figure of 9.3 seconds and a combined fuel consumption of 5 litres per 100 km. This model is also exempt from CO₂ tax with a combined CO₂ emission of 116 g/km.

The new 1.8 TFSI, currently the most powerful petrol engine in the line-up, produces 132 kW and 250 Nm of torque. It combines FSI direct injection with indirect injection and uses the Audi valvelift system to vary valve lift as required. The exhaust manifold is integrated into the cylinder head – a similar solution is also used in the two smaller TFSI engines. With S tronic and front-wheel drive, the 1.8T will sprint from zero to 100 km/h in 7.3 seconds and has a top speed of 232 km/h, with an average fuel consumption of 5.6 litres per 100 km corresponding to 130 grams of CO₂ per km.

Following in August 2013, the range will be expanded to include the efficient 1.2T FSI, the 1.8T FSI with manual transmission and the 1.8T FSI paired with a quattro drivetrain. The highly anticipated Audi S3 3-door and S3 Sportback will also be launched to the local market in August.

The interior of the new A3 Sportback is marked by an elegant, clean and light design. Lines and surfaces are sinuously taut. A long arch runs below the windshield in the style of the large Audi models. The instrument panel with its curved front is lean and low. Together with the centre console, which is angled slightly toward the driver, it provides a sense of ergonomic simplicity.

The intuitively clean ergonomics are a classic Audi strength. The MMI operating system with the power-retractable colour monitor is standard on all models. A button for the electromechanical parking brake replaces the handbrake lever.

Thanks to the extra 58 millimetres in the wheelbase, the A3 Sportback offers ample rear seat space and easy access for three adults. The A3 Sportback also offers several millimetres more head and leg room than its predecessor.

The LED interior lighting package (standard on all models) includes subtle LED lights in the cabin. Also standard is Bluetooth with voice control and audio streaming.

The luggage compartment offers 380 litres of space in the basic configuration. The capacity expands to 1,220 litres with the seats folded down.

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