JOHANNESBURG - Audi has finally unleashed the all-new A3 in South Africa and there’s a surprising number of models to choose from for local fans of the four rings of Ingolstadt - including the VW Golf GTI’s worst nightmare, the all-new S3. Audi South Africa is capitalising on the Volkswagen brand’s decision to only introduce the GTI variant of the new Golf 8 locally, which means there’s a huge void to fill in the premium C-hatch segment for the Group that’s being dominated by the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
Not only are there a several engine choices, you can also opt to customise your new A3 with several additional packages that aim to heighten the appeal of the car amongst hip and trendy types who want to stand out from a crowd of SUVs and crossovers. There are two body types at launch; the five-door Sportback or the four-door sedan. Sadly, the ultra-stylish three-door A3 body style has been canned.
So what’s the all new 2021 Audi A3 all about? Let’s tuck in to find out everything you need to know about it:
1) ENGINE CHOICES
In South Africa, there are two engine offerings at launch, with an additional option becoming available later in 2021. The A3 35 TFSI (1.4 TFSI), with 110kW of power and an eight-speed tiptronic transmission, serves as the entry-level engine.
The larger petrol engine, A3 40 TFSI (2.0 TFSI) with 140kW, follows with seven-speed S-tronic transmission (only available from November 2021 onwards due to shortages caused by semiconductor chip availability).
The performance-bred S3 TFSI with quattro offers 213kW, 400Nm and a quick-shifting seven-speed S tronic, the selector lever of which is now designed as a compact shifter and available across the range. The driver can push and pull this to control the basic functions of the automatic transmission.
Eagle-eyed readers will note that the S3 we get in Mzansi is down on horsepower compared to other markets in the world. When Audi spokesmen were probed on this, very little clarity was given around the power drop. In the past, heat management challenges were cited for S3s making less power in SA than in other parts of the world, but we’re certain this might have something to do with South African fuel quality and the particulate filtration systems fitted to the latest S3.
2) BUILD YOUR OWN
The new Audi A3 range offers the “package concept” as introduced on other new Audi models launched in South Africa in the past two years. Audi says the concept aims to reduce complexity when ordering a new vehicle, considering that a customer is generally faced with a long list of options to choose from. Audi classifies key options according to a specific customer need and offers a simplified value proposition. These packages have been defined by a combination of customer preferences as well as strategic options which aim to highlight Audi’s uniqueness or technology enhancements, they say.
The are currently four A3 options packages that include:
Upgrade pack (LED lights, 2-zone automatic climate control, auto-dimming mirror, rear parking aid)
Technology pack (Audi virtual cockpit plus, MMI navigation plus, Audi connect navigation & infotainment, rear USB ports with charging function)
Sports pack (black styling exterior elements, black mirrors, 18-inch wheel, sports suspension)
S line interior pack (armrest in leatherette, centre armrest, S emblems, black headliner fabric, stainless steel pedals, sports seats, decorative inserts in dark aluminium)
3) AGGRESSIVE STYLING
The 2021 A3 models feature compact proportions and a sporty design. The wide Singleframe and large air inlets at the front end highlight their dynamic character. The shoulder of the body extends in a smooth line from the headlights to the rear lights. The area below is curved inward. This “concave” element is new to Audi’s design and puts a stronger emphasis on the wheel arches.
The Audi A3 Sportback and Sedan come in three trim lines. The Standard model offers 16-inch wheels and black detailing around the grille and air intakes. With the Advanced model, the wheel increases to 17-inches and the exterior detailing becomes chrome with Advanced line bumpers. The S line model includes a modified and sportier bumper design, sports suspension, illuminated door sills with the S emblem and an S style spoiler on the Sportback.
The digital daytime running lights of the optional Matrix LED headlights are a further innovation. On the S line model, they consist of a pixel array made up of LED segments in a three by five arrangement that create special light signatures and make the new A3 immediately recognisable. The sporty design is continued in the interior with the new gear shift selector, aluminium or carbon inlays, striking wedge-like door handles, and an instrument panel with a black finish.
With the new S3 models, the vehicle displays a heightened dynamic design character from the very first glance, according to Audi. The front is dominated by the Singleframe with its large rhombus-patterned grille and impressive air inlets, while the housings of the exterior mirrors offer an aluminium look. At the rear end, the large diffuser and the four exhaust tailpipes accentuate the vehicle’s sportiness. With quattro all-wheel drive, 19-inch wheels, red brake calipers and S model specific bumpers, suspension and other S details, the S3 models are impressive characters within the new A3 range (at least until the all-new RS3 arrives next year).
4) FEATURE RICH
The cockpit of the new A3 is wholly focused on the driver. It uses familiar elements from the brand’s full-size class models and is equipped with a 26cm touch display as standard, which is integrated in the centre of the instrument panel. It recognises letters entered by hand, provides acoustic feedback, and can be controlled using natural voice language. The instrument cluster, which the driver operates via the multifunction steering wheel, is now also digital as standard. The optional Audi virtual cockpit plus (as part of the Technology Package) provides additional functions such as the large display of the navigation map. It measures 31cm and enables three different views, including graphics with a sporty look.
The MMI operating concept is powered by the new third-generation modular infotainment platform. Its computing power is ten times higher than that of its predecessor. It performs all tasks relating to connectivity, including telephony and the Audi connect services with LTE Advanced speed. Individual settings can be stored in up to six user profiles – from climate control and the seat position to frequently selected navigation destinations and frequently used media. The DAB+ digital radio is included as standard and the online or hybrid radio is available as an option. Route guidance is particularly easy and flexible. For example, the navigation offers predictions on the development of the traffic situation and high-resolution satellite images.
The Audi A3 model range also ushers in fully integrated connectivity, the Audi connect portfolio includes a host of online services which offer advanced infotainment, navigation and Car-to-X services which take advantage of the swarm intelligence to service, safety and convenience built into the connected A3. The new Audi A3 can be connected to the user’s smartphone via the myAudi app, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, as well as via the Audi phone box. The latter connects the device to the car antenna and charges it inductively using Qi technology.
5) COMPACT YET SPACIOUS
The new A3 models offer more space and functionality combined with compact external dimensions. Measuring 4340mm in length and 1820mm in width (without mirrors), the A3 Sportback has grown by just over 30mm compared with its predecessor. The height of 1430mm – without the roof antenna – and the wheelbase of 2640mm remains unchanged. Depending on the position of the rear bench seat, the luggage compartment holds between 380 and 1200 litres, and the loading floor can be inserted at different heights. Upon request and in combination with the comfort key feature, tailgate for the Sportback and the Sedan can also be electronically operated.
The new Audi A3 Sedan is just over 150mm longer than the A3 Sportback. All other dimensions are identical. At 425 litres, the luggage capacity is the same as in the predecessor model. The rear end and the large diffuser help the Sedan to achieve an excellent drag coefficient of 0.25.
6) RIDE AND HANDLING
The suspension of the new A3 models – with a four-link rear axle for engines from 110kW – is said to be sporty and balanced, combining pleasant ride comfort with good dynamics. In combination with the Audi drive select dynamic handling system, the suspension is available with adaptive damper control (optional for the S3 models), which simultaneously lowers the body by 10mm.
Each damper permanently adapts to the road condition, the driving situation, and the settings in Audi drive select, creating a wide spread between highly comfortable roll motion and agile handling. With the sport suspension – standard in conjunction with the S line trim or optional with the Sports Package – the focus is clearly on dynamics, they claim. Due to the tauter tuning of the suspension and dampers and the fact that the vehicle is lowered by 15mm, the new A3 is said to convey an even more direct contact with the road surface.
Equipped with the optional Audi Pre sense front, the parking assist, and the lane departure warning, the new A3 models help prevent accidents with other road users and offer a high level of safety. Further assist systems, such as the lane change and exit warnings as well as the cross traffic, are available also available.
2021 AUDI A3 and AUDI S3 PRICING IN SOUTH AFRICA
The 2021 Audi A3 range will officially go on sale in South Africa from 1 August 2021 and is priced as follows (inclusive of all taxes) and comes standard with a 5-year/100 000km Audi Freeway Plan that can be extended to 10-years/300 000km if you plan on paying off your car to keep it for at least the next decade:
FIVE-DOOR A3 PRICES
Audi A3 Sportback 35 TFSI - R561 000
Audi A3 Sportback 35 TFSI Advanced - R586 000
Audi A3 Sportback 35 TFSI S line - R601 000
Audi A3 Sportback 40 TFSI S line - R641 000
Audi S3 Sportback TFSI quattro - R795 000
SEDAN A3 PRICES
Audi A3 Sedan 35 TFSI - R576 000
Audi A3 Sedan 35 TFSI Advanced - R601 000
Audi A3 Sedan 35 TFSI S line - R616 000
Audi A3 Sedan 40 TFSI S line - R656 000
Audi S3 Sedan TFSI quattro R810 000