GENEVA – Audi’s new A3 will come to the U.S. in 2013 as a sportback model, to be introduced at the Paris auto show in October, but Europe will get the third generation sooner, including a 3-door version powered by a 1.6L diesel that will emit just 99 g/km of carbon dioxide.
The new car is lighter than the outgoing model by about 176 lbs. (80 kg), thanks to aluminum fenders and hood and attention to every detail in the car, says Christian Bangemann, head of communications-product and technology.
The new I-4 diesel will appear first in the A3, although it was largely developed by parentfor the global Golf family. Although the A3 shares the Golf architecture, it has some unique parts.
U.S. customers order 40% of the current A3 volume with a 2.0L diesel, but Americans probably won’t be offered the new engine. U.S. buyers seem to prefer larger displacements, says Bangemann, so they likely will be offered a redone 2.0L with a new cylinder head and fuel-injection system, making 127 hp.
Germans, who get the car later this year, will have a choice of two gasoline engines along with the diesel. One of the gasoline engines, a 163-hp 1.8L, will be sold in the U.S.
Diesels are growing in popularity in America, Bangemann says, because buyers are looking “more and more for fuel efficiency, and love the range that a diesel provides.”
The only other Audi with a diesel in the U.S. is the Q7, ordered by more than 50% of customers. The Audi A8 will be the next to offer a diesel in the U.S., and other models will follow.
Europe will get an A3 with a compressed-natural-gas engine in 2013 and a hybrid powertrain in 2014, and U.S. sales are being considered. Audi notes that a CNGCivic recently won a major award in North America.
Audi CEO Rupert Stadler introduced the A3 Dimension as a “major leap forward” toward the interconnected automobile. Its navigation and infotainment system is directed by a “touch wheel” that verifies theiDrive choice of command. Audi’s information system is online, which permits real-time traffic conditions and up-to-date maps.
Stadler says Audi has sold 2.7 million A3s so far and leads the segment globally against the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and1-Series. He notes that the A3 will be the first car in the segment to offer light-emitting-diode headlamps.
Audi has been enjoying outstanding success globally. Company revenues jumped 24% to E4.4 billion ($5.8 billion) last year on sales of 1.3 million units. Audi passed Mercedes-Benz to take second place among luxury brands behind BMW. Audi has said it will recruit 1,200 new employees in Germany this year.