From this month, wider availability of the distinctive S line sports specification for Britain’s market leading premium segment hatchback - the Audi A3 - will further expand the already unrivalled choice in the range. The popularity of the 46-version line-up has not, however, adversely affected exclusivity, as the A3 accounts for only two per cent of A-segment hatchback sales each year, or the equivalent of one in every 43 cars of this kind sold.
The Audi A3 range is still the principal beneficiary of the steady migration to the premium brands in the compact hatchback class, which as a whole contributed almost one million sales to Britain’s new car registration total in 2004. Still the select model in the sector that it created back in 1996, the A3 owes its success to traditional ‘Vorsprung Durch Technik’ values of advanced technology, design flair and high build quality.
Previously reserved for 3.2 V6 petrol and 2.0 TDI models, the S line specification is now available at an extra cost of £1,000 for all three-door A3 and five-door A3 Sportback models equipped with quattro permanent four-wheel-drive and/or the ground-breaking Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG).
This means that eligibility now extends to all models equipped with the widely acclaimed 2.0-litre turbo petrol FSI engine with 200PS, as well as to 250PS 3.2 quattro Sport versions and the 140PS 2.0 TDI where quattro drive and/or DSG are specified.
Exclusive S line features include 18-inch, RS 6-style 5 Arm alloy wheels, unique S line sports suspension, S line badging for the side panels and sill strips, leather and Speed cloth upholstered sports seats and a perforated leather-trimmed S line sports steering wheel.
The S line specification particularly suits the A3 2.0 T FSI models, sharpening their focus as rewarding yet refined high performance hatchbacks still further. Their purposeful styling and agile S line suspension combine with a turbo charged 200PS petrol engine with a high-pressure common rail fuel injection system propelling extremely accurate measures of fuel directly into the cylinders rather than via the intake manifold, as is the norm. This not only increases power and torque compared with conventional engines, but also minimises exhaust emissions and improves fuel economy. As a result the A3 Sportback 2.0 T FSI with the unique twin-clutch Direct Shift Gearbox can accelerate from rest to 62mph in 7.0 seconds and reach a maximum speed of 147mph, yet is also good for 36.6mpg on the combined cycle, and a comparatively low 185g CO2 figure.New Open Sky system for Sportback models
A3 Sportback models are now available with the Audi Open Sky system, a panoramic glass sunroof covering an area of more than half a square metre that lets in twice as much daylight as a conventional sunroof. The roof extends from the windscreen to the rear window, giving occupants a heightened sense of light and space.
The divided glass panel can be opened in a variety of permutations, from a slight tilt for draught-free fresh air to full length opening for maximum air flow and a panoramic view. Two roller blinds, which are colour co-ordinated with the interior, can be operated from both the front and rear seats to shield occupants from glare, and can also be closed with the roof fully open for maximum draught protection.
The glass roof uses toughened safety glass, and incorporates a cross-member positioned above and between the front and rear seats to ensure that occupant safety isn’t compromised.
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