No one would blame Audi for trying to focus its energy on bringing out another utility vehicle, since the shift in preferences of new vehicle buyers to that end of the market is more than well documented.
However, the German premium brand’s latest intro is a small sedan: the second-generation A3.
First introduced in 2015, the new iteration gets longer, wider and higher – as small sedans invariably do over time – as well as offering an evolutionary exterior and interior update for the 2021 model year. Not only is their more room inside, this bigger version slices through the wind more easily.
This new level of aerodynamics comes from distinct, yet subtle exterior design changes. The front end of A3 features a framed honeycomb grille with headlights forming downward angles framed by the LED daytime running lights. The car’s more angular look makes it look a bit more aggressive, which is accentuated by the fact that the rear is higher than the front.
This higher rear, along with a large diffuser, contributed significantly to the improved aerodynamics for 2020. The controllable cooling-air inlet with two electrically actuated louver modules behind the Singleframe grille also help.
They regulate the flow of air intelligently and according to the situation. In addition, the paneled underbody, the exterior mirrors with improved aerodynamics, and the active brake cooling reduce air resistance and make for a streamlined vehicle.
Of course, all of that only helps with the car’s performance since it comes with two powerplants. A 2.0-liter diesel, which we won’t get in the U.S. and a gas-powered inline four-cylinder engines, one of which gets an additional boost with a mild hybrid system.
The 1.5-liter turbocharged inline four puts out 148 horsepower, but when the 48-volt mild-hybrid system is added, it gets an additional 37 pound-feet of on-demand torque, which certainly helps when moving from a stop. The electric assist also helps the stop-start system shut down when coasting or idling. Combined with cylinder on-demand tech, Audi expects the mild-hybrid to average between 47 mpg and 50 mpg using European specs — so expect it to be a bit lower here.
The four is mated either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which is how one gets the mild-hybrid system added on. There is some ambiguity about whether or not the manual transmission will be coming to America, so chalk it up to a possible maybe and a potential victory for those in the “Save the Manuals” camp.
Audi plans to offer its Quattro configuration, and we expect that the new model will also come in the S3 and R3 variants for those wanting more from the go pedal.
Perhaps the biggest change from first to second generation is the interior. The driver is clearly the focus in the new layout with the center stack angled toward the pilot and a 10.25-inch digital instrument panel that can be upgraded with to the Virtual Cockpit Plus, a 12.3-inch customizable display. It also uses the third-generation Modular Infotainment Platform, which allows the car to offer up an interactive voice concierge as well as handwriting recognition system.
It also gets plenty of safety technology, including Audi’s presense collision mitigation tech and enhanced adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist technologies. In addition the standard safety equipment, it can also be equipped with “car-to-X” connectivity powering features such as Traffic Light Assist, which puts a countdown for when traffic lights will change on the dashboard, and Efficiency Assist, a fuel economy coach that makes
suggestions based on traffic and navigation data. Car-to-X also aggregates traffic information, helping A3 drivers avoid traffic jams or other problems on the roads.
If you lived in Germany, you could place your order at the end of the month; however, in the U.S. the new A3 won’t be available until about this time next year. Prices in Europe start in the $32K range, but Audi officials in the U.S. won’t confirm pricing or even if it’s going to be a 2021 or 2022 model until closer to its arrival date.