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The Audi A3 was introduced in 2005 as a compact luxury automobile built by Audi since 1996. Its size places it somewhere between a 5-door sedan hatchback and a conventional wagon, and it uses the Volkswagen A platform shared with the VW Golf, Škoda Octavia and SEAT León. With stress placed on sportiness moreso than cargo capacity, the A3 is aimed at drivers interested in performance who also might appreciate a bit of extra space for their active lifestyles.
See Wikicars' comprehensive Audi A3 Review.
- For 2011, Audi facelifts and updates the A3 line. 
- The Audi A3 was introduced in 2006 as an all new model, and it remains largely unchanged for the 2007 model year. Of particular interest is the twin-clutch Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) automated manual which can be used as an automatic or as a lightning fast shifting manual using paddles on the steering wheel.
- November 2007 sees Audi unveil the A3 Cabriolet. Slated to start rolling off the dealerships in February 2008 (at least in Europe), as of this writing, however, it is not yet confirmed whether the compact 2+2/4 seating sunworshipper will be sold in the USA or Japan. It will be available in two (2) trim packages namely; Attraction and Ambition. Unlike most of its droptop peers, the A3 cabriolet will not have a folding tintop but instead employ old-school canvas that will be available either in black, blue and red. The roof will come in 2 flavours that will allow either a fully automatic deployment in 9 seconds or a semi-automatic deployment that will require a bit of work from you. Motivation will come from a choice of 4 engines: two petrol; the 160 HP 1.8 TSI and the 200 HP 2.0 TSI and two diesel; the 105 HP 1.9 TDI and the 140 HP 2.0 TDI. The Ambition trim also adds over Attraction 17-inch aluminum wheels, sports suspension and sports seats, amongst other features. Also, an S line exterior package and S line sports package including 18-inch wheels are available from quattro GmbH. Outside, the exterior receives a major tweaking. The entire front fascia is redesigned to appear more in keeping with Audi's current design philosophy (nee Audi A4, Audi A5, Audi R8). The grille, for instance, is now lower, wider and sunk in rather than protuding outward and the headlamp clusters gain a more complex and intricate appearance thanks to the aluminium surrounds. The rear fascia is similar to the A5 but the taillights are brought even more up to date via a white/amber graphic that dominates the eye in the expanse of red. The cabin remains relatively unchanged from it older hatchback sibling save for two roll hoops attached to the rear seat headrests.
- For 2009, Audi extends the A3 Cabriolet's facelifted fascia to the rest of the range. Audi also introduces an all-new S3, available in both 3 and 5 door variants, which is powered by Audi's turbocharged 265 hp 2.0 litre powermill attached to Quattro AWD traction. Other significant changes are the inclusion of the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission for the 1.6, 1.4 TFSI and 1.8 TFSI variants, Audi Magnetic Ride and electronic damping control system. For the Eujropean market, pricing begins at 20,350 euros. 
- For 2010, Audi of UK the limited-run UK market-only A3 "Black Edition". 
Styles and Major Options
The 2007 A3 comes available in two trims, the 2.0 T and the 3.2 S. The 2.0 T, as the name indicates, is equipped with a 2.0L 200hp I-4 engine, while the 3.2 S is equipped with a 3.2L 250hp V6. While the standard transmission for the 2.0 is a 6-speed manual with overdrive, the 3.2 is automatically fitted with a 6-speed Tiptronic auto-shift transmission. The 3.2 also comes with a few more standard features than the 2.0. The standout items for both trims include:
- 17" silver alloy wheels
- 6-way front seat controls
- Cloth seating
- Cargo net and tie-downs
- Automatic air conditioning
- 10-speaker satellite ready AM/FM/CD audio system
- Cruise control
- Power locks, windows, mirrors
3.2 S adds to or replaces 2.0 T features with:
- Sports front seats with 8-way power driver's seat
- Leather seating
- Leather/aluminum shift knob
- Dual illuminated vanity mirrors
- 10-speaker Bose audio, AM/FM/6-CD in-dash changer with MP3 capability
- HomeLink wireless control system
- Systems monitor, trip computer, and ext. temp. readout
- Rear lip spoiler
As seen on the FuelEconomy.gov website, the City/Highway MPG averages are as follows:
As a model that was only introduced to automotive markets in 2006, it is still too early to offer accurate reliability information for the Audi A3.
Although safety ratings for the A3 are not yet available on the NHTSA website, Autos.com ranks the A3 3rd in its Near-Luxury Car category for Safety. It should be noted, however, that this 3rd place ranking is shared with 8 other vehicles.
Some of the standard safety features on the A3 are as follows:
- Electronic Stability Control
- 4-wheel anti-lock brakes
- Front and rear anti-roll bars
- Front- and side-impact airbags with occupancy sensors
- Side impact bars
2011 A3 Sportback
2009 A3 Cabriolet
Colors for the A3 will vary by trim, and a complete list is available at CarsDirect.com. Some of the available combinations include:
- Brilliant Black
- Brilliant Red
- Lava Gray Pearl Effect
- Liquid Blue Metallic
- Ocean Blue Pearl Effect
- Volcano Red
- Dakota Gray
- Amethyst Gray
- Scuba Blue
- Light Gray
The back seat of the A3 Hatchback has more legroom than the A4 Sedan or Avant.
- "Complaints? We'd like the accelerator moved aft, even with the dead pedal, and the 2.0-liter sounds a bit like a diesel at low revs." - Motor Trend
- "Similar to other sport/luxury lifestyle wagons such as the Lexus IS 300 SportCross, cargo room is compromised for a sporty style." - Motor Trend
- "And if you are the type who buys vehicles for sheer size and interior room, other models will better satisfy you for the price." - Kelley Blue Book
- Of the A3 3.2 S-line, Car & Driver wrote, "On the downside, we also anticipated that the standard DSG and four-wheel drive would add thousands to the bottom line, but the V-6 model starts at a whopping $34,700, which is $9240 more than a base A3 2.0T. If you’re not shocked, consider that a 325i — yes, the 15-time 10Best-winning 3-series — is $3105 cheaper."
- "Not as comfortable as a Golf; ageing all-alloy 1.6; still tralis BMW in steering and handling." - Wheels Magazine
Current Generation (2003-Present)
In the 2003 Frankfurt Motorshow, Audi launched the second-generation of the A3, the Typ 8P. The premium version of the A3 is the 3.2 Quattro with a 24-valve 250 hp (186 kW) VR6 engine. It delivers a peak-torque range with a maximum value of 320 N·m (236 ft·lbf) from 2500–3000 rpm.
In 2006 Audi released the new S3 quattro, this was the top of the range A3 which used the same 2.0 TFSI engine with an output of 265HP, the reason they used the 2.0T was to keep it lighter then the 3.2 quattro thus giving it superior driving dynamics.
The new Audi A3 (three-door and five-door Sportback) has been styled by Italian Walter Da Silva.
- 1.6L (1595cc) (Inline 4), 75kW (102PS), 0-100Km/h = 11,9 sec, Top Speed = 185km/h (116MPH)
- 1.6L (1595cc) (Inline 4) DOHC, 85kW (115PS), 0-100Km/h = 10,9 sec, Top Speed = 196km/h (123MPH)
- 2.0L (1984cc) (Inline 4) DOHC, 110kW (150PS), 0-100Km/h = 8,9 sec, Top Speed = 214km/h (134MPH)
- 1.8L (1798cc) (Inline 4) DOHC turbo, 118kW (160PS), 0-100Km/h = 8,0 sec, Top Speed = 220km/h (138MPH)
- 2.0L (1984cc) (Inline 4) DOHC turbo, 147kW (200PS), 0-100Km/h = 7,1 sec, Top Speed = 236km/h (148MPH)
- 1.9L (1896cc) (Inline 4) turbo diesel, 77kW (105PS), 0-100Km/h = 11,4 sec, Top Speed = 187km/h (117MPH)
- 2.0L (1968cc) (Inline 4) turbo diesel, 103kW (140PS), 0-100Km/h = 9,5 sec, Top Speed = 207km/h (129MPH)
- 2.0L (1968cc) (Inline 4) turbo diesel, 125kW (170PS), 0-100Km/h = 8,2 sec, Top Speed = 222km/h (139MPH)
- 3.2L (3189cc) (V6) DOHC, 184kW (250PS), 0-100Km/h = 6,3 sec, Top Speed = 250km/h (155MPH)
- 2.0L (1984cc) (Inline 4) DOHC turbo, 195kW (265PS), 0-100Km/h = 5,7 sec, Top Speed = 250km/h (155MPH)
The A3 is offered with a choice of four transmissions depending on model and trim level. There is the standard 5-speed or 6-speed manual together with a 6-speed semi-automatic S-Tronic (previously called Direct-Shift Gearbox or (DSG)) which claims to achieve gear changes in under 0.2 seconds by use of electro-hydraulically controlled clutches. The S-Tronic can be used either in 'fully automatic' mode, or gears can be selected manually using the gearshift lever or optional steering-wheel paddles.
A five-door version marketed as a "Sportback" was launched in the United States market in May 2005 priced at US$25,450. It uses the 200 hp (149 kW) turbocharged 2.0 L FSI I4 engine with a standard six-speed manual transmission. A Direct-Shift Gearbox (DSG) clutchless manual transmission is optional and priced at $1,400. The American A3 was initially offered with front wheel drive only. Audi added a 3.2 L VR6 engine model which included Quattro (all wheel drive) along with the S-line trim kit (unique bumpers, door sills, and interior trim) in late 2005. At launch, this model was only offered with DSG.
The American A3 comes with a great deal of standard equipment, including 17-inch wheels, a 140-watt sound system with 10 speakers and CD player, automatic climate control, and an Electronic Stabilization Program. For 2006, the $1,800 Sport Package includes colored wheels, a sport suspension, and an upgraded interior with leather sport seats. For $2,025, the Premium Package adds a trip computer, leather seats, and other convenience features. A panoramic sunroof, called "Open Sky System" that comprises a sun-roof and a glass panel over the backseat passengers is optional, as are a navigation system and upgraded Bose audio system. Starting in late 2007, the 2.0T Sport Package will be dropped, to be replaced by an S-line package- including most of the current Sport Package features plus the S-line trim kit that adorns the 3.2 model.
In the Spring of 2005, Audi began a massive alternate reality game to advertise for the A3. This Alternate Reality Game was known as The Art of the Heist.
First generation (1996-2003)
The original A3 (or Typ 8L) was introduced in the European market in 1996, marking Audi's return to the lower market segments since the demise of the Audi 50. Using the VW Golf's platform, it bears a natural close resemblance to its contemporary, the Golf Mk. IV. The car was initially available only with a three-door hatchback body, in order to present a more sporty image than the Golf, in both front- and four-wheel drive. All engines had a four-cylinder configuration and were transversally mounted. After the A4, the Audi A3 was the second model in the Audi lineup to use five valves per cylinder.
In 1999, Audi expanded the range with the introduction of an entry level model (1.6 L), a sporty version (1.8 Turbo with 180 PS (132 kW)) and a more powerful Diesel (1.9 TDI with pumpe-düse technology and variable geometry turbocharger). The four-wheel-drive A3 1.8T Quattro used either the 150 hp (110 kW) and 180 PS (132 kW) and the same Haldex-based quattro drivetrain as the Audi S3 and the original Audi TT. 1999 was also the year Audi was forced to bow to market demands and introduced a hastily conceived five-door body, that the company had never intended to produce.
In late 2001, the A3 range was revised with new light clusters, an improved interior, and the introduction of a six-speed manual gearbox, on the 180 PS 1.8 Turbo and the brand new 130 PS (96 kW) 1.9 TDI. Audi's ESP (Electronic Stability Program) traction-control and brakeforce distribution computer became standard equipment.
Although the Audi A3 was replaced in Europe during 2003, the first generation model continues to be sold in developing countries, most notably Brazil.
According to Car Survey.org, the average reliability rating for the first generation Audi A3 is 6.98 points out of 10.
- 1.6 L (1595 cc/97 in³), 75 kW (102 in³), 0-100Km/h = 10,9sec, Top Speed = 189km/h (118MPH)
- 1.8 L (1781 cc/108 in³) 92 kW (125 PS), 0-100Km/h = 9,7sec, Top Speed = 202km/h (126MPH)
- 1.8 L (1781 cc/108 in³) light-pressure turbo, 110 kW (150 PS), 0-100Km/h = 8,2sec, Top Speed = 217km/h (136MPH)
- 1.8 L (1781 cc/108 in³) turbo, 132 kW (180 PS), 0-100Km/h = 7,6sec, Top Speed = 228km/h (143MPH)
- 1.8 L (1781 cc/108 in³) turbo, 165 kW (225 PS), 0-100Km/h = 6,6sec, Top Speed = 243km/h (152MPH)
- 1.9 L (1896 cc/115 in³) turbo Diesel, 66 kW (90 PS), 0-100Km/h = 12,4sec, Top Speed = 181km/h (113MPH)
- 1.9 L (1896 cc/115 in³) turbo Diesel, 81 kW (110 PS), 0-100Km/h = 10,5sec, Top Speed = 194km/h (121MPH)
- 1.9 L (1896 cc/115 in³) turbo Diesel, 96 kW (130 PS), 0-100Km/h = 9,2sec, Top Speed = 205km/h (128MPH)
Design quirks and oddities
- "A7, A5, and A3 Joins Even Numbers", an article in the "News" section on page thirty-eight of the June, 2004 issue of Motor Trend
- Audi A3 Owner's Manual (English/UK edition) (2000 Audi AG)
- Official Audi A3 Microsite
- AudiForum.ca A3 Owners Discussion Forum
- AudiWorld A3 Discussion Forum
- Used Audi A3 information
- Audi A3 Car Club
Audi Dealer Sites
- UK Audi Dealer - Audi Essex (uk)
- Audi reveals 2009 A3 Cabrio
- New Cars: Audi A3 Cabriolet
- Audi A3 Cabriolet unveiled in Hungary
- Audi Shows Off New A3 Cabriolet
- Facelift Audi A3 & A3 Sportback Plus All-New 265Hp S3 Sportback
- Minor Tweaks for 2011 Audi A3 Hatch, Sportback, Cabriolet and S3