|What is it? A traditional, if small, German luxury sedan that replaces a slow-selling hatchback version. Audi revealed the A3 only to the press at Manhattanís Chelsea Piers. It will not be shown to the public in New York because its official debut is set for April at Shanghaiís auto show.
Is it real? Real and recognizable, which is entirely the point. Some Americans are warming up to Euro-style hatchbacks, but most reflexively choose the sedan layout, making this refashioned A3 a no-brainer for Audi marketers. The nerdy hatchback club will be served later in 2014, when Audi adds a plug-in hybrid Sportback version to the lineup.
What they said: Scott Keogh, president of Audi of America, said the A3 would help improve Audiís sales in the United States to 200,000 units, years ahead of a previously announced target date of 2020. After 26 consecutive months of record sales, ďWe expect to sell a record 150,000 cars this year.Ē
What they didnít say: The price spread between the A3 and larger A4 sedan should be critical; too close, and space-conscious Americans may decide that itís worth spending a few thousand extra for the larger and more prestigious car.
What makes it tick? You name it: A 1.8-liter gas engine or 2-liter turbodiesel and gasoline engines Ė including a roughly 300-horse gas burner for the pocket-Hercules S3 version. Audi said the plug-in hybrid hatch would travel about 581 total miles using its lithium-ion battery, electric motor and small gasoline engine. The A3 is also deluxe, with standard leather, MMI interface, sunroof and Audiís 6-speed dual clutch automatic transmission Ė sorry, no stick Ė and options including Audi Connect infotainment and WiFi connectivity and a Bang & Olufsen audio system.
How much? How soon? The Audi goes on sale next spring as a 2015 model, with the plug-in Sportback arriving sometime in 2014. Figure on a sub-$30,000 base price to lure consumers to showrooms, with option sprees kicking the price closer to $40,000.
Howís it look? Like the dream car for younger status-conscious buyers. The A3 resembles a nine-tenths scale A4 sedan, but with a stronger stance, more distinct details and the latest techno gadgets.