A new compact Audi with stand-alone styling that genuinely blends five-door practicality with sports hatch desirability is to join the UK range this September. The new Audi A3 Sportback is built on the foundations of the much praised three-door A3, but features a distinctive new, extended body shell that not only brings the latest Audi single frame front grille to the compact class for the first time, but crucially also integrates even more rear passenger space and luggage capacity.
Purposeful styling, performance hatch dynamics and a range of powerful engines to include a new turbo charged 2.0-litre petrol unit with FSI direct fuel injection and 200PS will ensure that the Sportback name is far from a misnomer.
At the same time, the new A3 variant will also tick all the boxes as versatile and spacious transport for active families. Its additional wide-opening rear doors will lead to a cabin offering even more knee and head room than the three-door A3, and likely to be more roomy than forthcoming premium compact competitors, thanks in part to the 68 millimetre increase in body length, and also to the fact that engines are mounted transversely and drive the front wheels, minimising engine and transmission intrusion into the cabin. The luggage compartment also gains 20 litres more capacity than the three-door A3, giving a total of 1,120 litres with the standard fit folding rear seat lowered.
In spite of its many practical aspects, and in common with its three-door counterpart, the new A3 Sportback will be fundamentally a driver’s car. It will feature the familiar A3 engine range, including an ultra-efficient four-cylinder 1.6 FSI petrol unit, a potent 250PS 3.2 V6 and a torque-rich 2.0 TDI with 140PS, allied to five or six speed manual transmission, optional six-speed tiptronic automatic transmission or the much lauded semi-automatic Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG), also optional.
Powered by the new 2.0 T FSI engine, which delivers a maximum 200PS between 5,100 and 6,000rpm and an impressive 280Nm torque maximum from just 1,800rpm, it will be capable of accelerating from rest to 62mph in just 7.1 seconds, and where permissible continuing to a top speed of 150mph, all the while feeling composed and agile thanks to sophisticated all-independent suspension. The unique-in-class quattro four-wheel-drive system will also feature on some models for even greater reassurance.
The new A3 Sportback will be available in standard, SE and Sport trim, and will be offered with a wide range of optional extras ranging from a combined DVD satellite navigation system and MP3 music player to a two-part Open Sky glass sunroof system which will enable much of the roof section to be retracted for maximum fresh air (from 2005).
Prices and exact specification for UK models will be announced nearer to the September launch.
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