The latest-generation Audi A3 has only just gone on sale but the German maker is already expanding the range of offerings for the small car line.
That will now include two high-mileage versions of the A3 Sportback – or wagon, if you prefer. A diesel version will roll into showrooms next year, joining the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, the maker’s new plug-in hybrid.
The fact that Audi will soon have two versions of the Sportback in the entry-level A3 line-up is significant considering it seemed bound and determined to abandon the wagon for the U.S. market not all that long ago. But it got a different message from prior owners.
“The A3 TDI Sportback has an incredibly passionate and loyal fan base, this new version has been one of our most requested models since the announcement of the new A3 family,” said Scott Keogh, President of Audi of America. “This new A3 TDI Sportback combines excellent fuel economy with advanced technology and utility and will make a stunning addition to the already impressive A3 family.”
As things now stand, the new A3 family will boast a wide range of options once all the variants roll out over the next 18 months. That will include an A3 sedan and Cabriolet, an A3 TDI, or diesel, sedan, the high-performance S3, and the TDI and e-tron Sportsback models.
The A3 TDI Sportsback will feature a 2.0-liter clean diesel making 150 horsepower. It will be mated to a 6-speed S tronic automatic transmission.
Audi suggests that the TDI and e-tron versions will complement, rather than compete, with one another. The plug-in will be targeted at “eco-conscious drivers facing a typical American commute,” while the diesel Sportback will be aimed at “those with longer daily hauls who require the superb range TDI offers.”
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Fuel economy numbers for the A3 TDI Sportback likely won’t be released until closer to launch but the maker notes its diesels have typically been delivering about 30% better mileage than their gasoline alternatives. The naturally aspirated 1.8-liter gas sedan is yielding 23 mpg City, 33 mpg Highway.
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The Audi A3 has entered what is expected to be one of the market’s fastest-growing product segments over the coming decade, though the Volkswagen luxury brand will be facing some stiff competition from the likes of the new Mercedes-Benz CLA – itself one of that German maker’s most successful models ever.
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Audi is betting it can appeal to young, tech savvy buyers with an assortment of new features including the segment’s first built-in 4G LTE system, which offers an onboard WiFi hotspot. The infotainment system even will allow plug-n-play upgrading of key hardware components, such as its graphics engine, as technology improves in the years to come. That system will feature picture navigation, read-aloud news headlines, Facebook and Twitter alerts and access to smartphone apps and thousands of web-based radio stations.