The Audi A3 is a compact executive car produced by German automaker Audi since 1996. The first two generations of Audi A3 is based on the Volkswagen Group A platform, which they share with several other models such as the Audi TT, Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen Caddy and Volkswagen Touran as well as SEAT Leon, SEAT Toledo and Skoda Octavia. The third generation Audi A3 MQB platform uses the Volkswagen Group.
Audi A3 First Generation (Typ 8L 1996-2003)
The original Audi A3 was introduced in the European market in 1996, marking Audi’s return to the production of smaller cars following the demise of the Audi 50 in 1978. This was the first Volkswagen Group model to use the “PQ34” or platform, “Audi A4”, having a great natural resemblance to its contemporary, the Volkswagen Golf Mk4, which came a year later. In three years, the platform for a total of no fewer than seven cars had resulted.
The Audi A3 was initially available only with a three-door hatchback body, in order to present a more sporty image than the Golf, in the front and four-wheel drive. All motors were a configuration of four cylinders in line, and mounted transversely. After the Audi A4, the Audi A3 was the second model in the Audi line to use five valves per cylinder.
The UK market first received the Audi A3 in November 1996. In 1999, Audi expanded the range with the introduction of more powerful versions: 1.8 Turbo has 180 hp (132 kW; 178 hp) and a 1.9 engine Unit Injector diesel TDI technology “Pumpe Duse” (PD) and variable geometry turbocharger. The four-wheel-drive A3 1.8T quattro used either the 150 PS (110 kW; 148 hp) or 180 PS (130 kW; 180 hp) engine, and the same four-wheel drive system to the menu based on Haldex Traction as the Audi S3 and the Audi TT. Also in 1999, Audi also introduced a five-door body.
Audi A3 Second Generation (Typ 8P 2003-2013)
At the 2003 Geneva Motor Show, Audi launched the second generation of the A3, the Typ 8P, designed by Gary Telaak in 2000 (however, the final design was frozen in 2001). Originally launched only as a three-door hatchback with four cylinder engines, it featured a new automobile platform (the PQ35 platform), a redesigned interior and more spacious, new petrol engines with Fuel Stratified Injection (FSI), and standard six-speed manual transmission boxes
In mid 2003, the line was updated with two sports models targeted a 2.0 Turbo FSI-rated at 200 hp (147 kW; 197 hp) and a VR6 engine 3.2 L (first time) with 250 PS (184 kW; 247 hp). Quattro Haldex Traction-based on-demand four-wheel drive and the S-Tronic semi-auto gearbox were introduced as options (quattro is standard on the VR6) on every model with engine over 140 hp (103 kW; 138 hp).
In 2005 the “S line” trim level, offering new decorative elements, became available and the three-door A3 received the same style front end features as the Sportback model. For the first time, the A3 became available in the North American market, exclusively with the Sportback body, with the base 2.0 TFSI inline-four introduced in 2005 as a 2006 model, and the 3.2 VR6 quattro following.
Audi A3 Third Generation (Typ 8V 2012)
The third generation A3 was launched as a three-door hatchback at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show and went on sale in Europe in September 2012. Based on the Volkswagen Group MQB platform, the third generation is available as a five-door “Audi A3 Sportback” a four-door sedan to compete directly with the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, and two-door convertible. The features found in the Audi A3 include a new entertainment system with handwriting recognition and adaptive cruise control. The front suspension is MacPherson strut tuning, while the rear uses multi-link rear suspension. The vehicle was unveiled at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show.
Early German models include 1.4 TFSI (122 hp) 1.8 TFSI (180 hp) and 2.0 TDI (150 hp). 1.2 TFSI (105 hp) 1.4 TFSI (140 hp) 1.8 TFSI quattro was added (180 hp) 1.6 TDI (105 hp) and 2.0 TDI quattro (150 PS) in 2013. The convertible model will also be available in 2014. A3 1.2 TFSI (105 hp) was added to the UK market in 2013, followed by A3 1.4 TFSI (140 hp) in 2013.