What is it? The next iteration of Audi’s smallest car, the A3, will hit the showrooms as a four-door sedan, replacing the current A3’s hatchback-only configuration. It’s a compact luxury car one size down from Audi’s best-seller, the A4, and it’s positioned to compete against Mercedes’ newest entry in this niche, the CLA, and the Lexus IS.
What's new or notable? The A3 sedan has coupe-like styling and it’s six inches longer than the hatchback, with a wheelbase that’s about two inches longer. That could translate into some badly needed rear-seat legroom. It’s still a small car but will come loaded with luxury features and optional Quattro all-wheel drive.
Power comes from newly reworked four-cylinder engines, two gasoline-powered and the other a diesel. The base engine is a 180-hp, turbocharged 1.8-liter direct-injection engine and the up-level is a 2.0-liter using the same technology. The 2.0-liter diesel version, called TDI in Audi/VW speak, is said to be good for 150-hp.
The driver information display and optional navigation system use high-resolution 3-D graphics, the latter on a seven-inch screen.
The A3 will also offer Audi’s latest MMI (multi media interface) infotainment system and Audi Connect, which provides internet-based navigation, weather and gas prices, and a WiFi hotspot so backseat passengers can go online too.
A sporty S3 version will arrive some time after the A3, equipped with a 2.0-liter engine said to be good for about 300-hp. A Hybrid Sportback version, which resembles the current A3, will eventually debut as a plug-in hybrid model, using a drivetrain similar to what powers the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid.
CR’s take: A small, all-wheel-drive luxury car with and sporty handling certainly has appeal, and the diesel version should get terrific fuel economy. Prices haven’t been announced but we estimate that they’ll start in the $30,000 range.