The Audi A3 model, available in four body styles, four drive systems and three trim levels, is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. Audi introduced the A3 at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) in 1996. The car was developed from the ground up on the basis of the Golf IV platform, which followed in 1997.
From the very first generation, the Audi A3 has boasted innovations and quality features from higher classes, making it the founder of the premium compact class. The A3 initially was available exclusively as a three-door hatchback in three trim lines and with four different gasoline and diesel engines. In September 1998, Audi brought quattro permanent all-wheel drive to the compact segment for the first time in the A3. A five-door variant joined the model series in March 1999. And the brand reached a milestone with the first generation of the particularly sporty Audi S3 in the spring of that same year: the 1.8 liter, inline four-cylinder engine with turbocharging and five valves per cylinder produced 154 kW (210 hp).
The split grille still used in the second-generation Audi A3 was replaced in 2005 by the Singleframe, which went on to become the brand’s defining design element. #audi also expanded the A3 family to include its first open-topped variant: The #a3 Cabriolet launched in 2008 with a classic cloth top.
Now in the third generation, the Audi A3 is available for the first time as a notchback sedan. This version of the A3 celebrated its premiere at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show. In 2016, each and every variant in the entire model series received a technology update.
The Audi RS 3 Sportback is the sporty spearhead of the model series. The first generation was launched in 2011 with a 250 kW (340 hp), five-cylinder engine. The second edition of the RS 3 Sportback with 270 kW (367 hp) followed in 2015.
At this year’s Paris Motor Show, Audi presented the RS 3 Sedan, the first compact notchback Audi with an RS badge. The RS 3 sedan is powered by a 2.5 TFSI engine with 294 kW (400 hp), the most powerful five-cylinder engine on the market.
The A3 is also the forerunner in the Audi model portfolio when it comes to drive system variants. Besides eight conventional gasoline and diesel engines, the A3 model series has also been available with two alternative drive systems since the launch of the third generation: a natural gas-powered model and a plug-in hybrid.
The Audi A3 e-tron is the brand’s first plug-in hybrid. It pairs a 1.4 TFSI with an electric motor. The combustion engine produces 110 kW (150 hp) and delivers 250 Nm of torque; these figures for the electric motor are 75 kW and 330 Nm. The system power of 150 kW (204 hp) enables sporty driving performance. When connected to a 380 volt three-phase outlet, it takes just over two hours to fully recharge the lithium-ion battery (8.8 kWh).
The model series offers another alternative drive system with the A3 Sportback g-tron: the compact five-door model can also use #audi e-gas, whose production is virtually climate neutral, as an alternative to fossil natural gas. Equipped with a 1.4 TFSI engine producing 81 kW (110 hp), the A3 Sportback g-tron sets standards for efficiency and economy.
Lastly, the numerous driver assistance systems in the A3 exemplify Audi’s rapid pace of development in electrical systems and electronics. The current model generation offers such systems as Audi active lane assist or Audi pre sense front including predictive pedestrian protection. In addition, the optional traffic jam assist in the current A3 is groundbreaking. The system maintains distance to the vehicle ahead in traffic.