Geneva Motor Show: New Audi A3

Hear ye, hear ye, on-trend social climbers! Here's your next car: the new Audi A3.

Today's A3 is relatively ancient, having started life when the Mk4 Volkswagen Golf was still on sale - we're onto the Mk6 now.
Thanks to constant improvements and updates - and the fact it still feels better quality than the vast, vast majority of other hatchbacks - it's going strong today, but after nine years it has to go.

On its well-lit Geneva Show stand, this new one is the picture of compact imperiousness and aesthetic predictability. The nose is pure corporate Audi 2012 (as in, it looks almost identical to the new A4 and A6), while the rear three-quarter section has more than a dab of A1 about it.

The interior design is further towards the A1 scale than the A4, but that's no bad thing - it's funkier than the outgoing car, and the quality has, natch, taken a leap.

An MMI system, whose interface is a miniaturised version of those in big Audis, provides a focal point for the centre console - although its functionality is in no way watered down. It controls the full colour pop-up infotainment screen on the dash, and the top of the main dial is a touch pad that can be used to scribble commands onto.

As you'd expect, the new A3 is slightly bigger than before so there's more space, but it's also lighter, to the benefit of both handling (which the outgoing car was never famed for) and fuel economy. At least one A3 will beat the tax man by putting out just 99g/km of dirty carbon dioxide. Greater use of aluminium for the bodywork contributes to the weight loss.

This thing is stuffed with technology, and will feature options including full LED headlamps (a family hatch first), magnetic adaptive suspension, a mega B&O sound system, WLAN internet, adaptive cruise control, active lane assist, traffic sign detection and a 'pre-sense' auto crash mitigation system.

Three engines will come when the order book opens shortly: 1.4- and 1.8-litre TFSI petrols with 120- and 178bhp respectively, and a 141bhp 2.0-lite TDI. Model-for-model they're about ten percent more efficient.

It will be the 1.6-litre TDI, which comes later, that boasts 99g/km, with 74.3mpg combined.

Front-wheel drive is standard, and as ever, quattro will be an option, as will be a seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch auto.

First deliveries are penciled in for September, with prices starting at £19,000.

For all the latest on the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, click here.
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