Audi is poised to capture a cross section of the burgeoning youth market with its all-new A3. Initially available as a five-door hatch, the A3 is powered by a turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection. Besides being miserly in fuel consumption and emissions output, the powerplant sends an impressive 200 horsepower and 207 lb.-ft of torque to the front wheels, the latter available at 1,800 through 5,000 rpm. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, with an optional Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) optional. A quattro all-wheel-drive version should arrive in early 2006, replete with 3.2-liter V6 power and the DSG transmission.
Road handling is accomplished via a MacPherson front and four-link rear suspension, an electromechanical steering rack with speed-dependent power assistance, and 17- or optional 18-inch wheels. The optional Sport Suspension drops the A3 by 15mm and includes stiffer tuning.
Stylistically, the A3 is drop-dead gorgeous, with crisp angular lines, bulbous wheel arches and a bold nose that is unmistakably Audi. Inside, the automaker blends a supple cloth interior (leather is optionally available), with the stylish edge of aluminum trim and dials. The look is sporty with a dash of elegance and the ergonomics beg for long stints behind the wheel.
Loaded with a bevy of amenities, the A3 includes automatic climate control with pollen filter and sun sensor, a 140-watt stereo replete with 10 speakers and satellite preparation (both Sirius and XM are available), 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, power windows and power door locks.
Significant options include the Sport Package (tuned suspension, aluminum interior trim, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, fog lamps, roof spoiler, leather seating and sport seats) and the Premium package, which nets all but the suspension tuning and roof spoiler from the Sport Package, and also adds a Homelink programmable transmitter, a trip computer, auto-dimming mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, and a power driver seat. Xenon headlamps are also available, as well as the Open Sky sunroof and rear-side airbags.