The new three-door Audi A3 is hardly a great styling leap over the old model, but it's greatly improved in terms of size and space. Based on the upcoming Mark 5 VW Golf, it is 1.2 inches wider than the old A3 and has a 2.6-inch-longer wheelbase. Also like the Golf, it has a sophisticated multi-link rear suspension in place of the current car's antediluvian torsion beam. The A3 will be available with engines ranging from a 101-hp 1.6-liter four to a 238-hp 3.2-liter V-6. Five- or six-speed manual gearboxes are available depending on engine, with a six-speed automatic as an option. Audi also offers its Direct Shift Gearbox on the V-6 and the 138-hp turbodiesel. The Quattro all-wheel-drive system is again optional. Expect to see the A3 here in Avant wagon guise sometime in 2005.
BOTTOM LINE: Crisper all around.
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