First Look: Audi A3 Concept

The A3 uses Audi's seven-speed S Tronic dual-clutch transmission and quattro all-wheel drive. Reverse, neutral, and drive are selected using buttons mounted in the center console, while park is engaged in the transmission when the parking brake is activated. Manual shifting is accomplished with traditional steering-wheel-mounted paddles. The lack of a shift lever is just part of new clean, minimalist aesthetic of the interior. A machined aluminum rail runs through the center of the dash, which houses many of the car's systems controls. The instrument panel consists of two large dials with an 8-inch computer screen between them. The display is configurable based on driver preferences. The infotainment screen rises out of the dash, allowing for a cleaner look when it isn't needed, and the MMI controls have been reworked. It still uses the traditional rotary control, but the top is now a touchpad that allows for more Apple-computer-like control. The high-end sound system uses speakers surrounded by aluminum frames that extend outward when the stereo is in use. Audi states that the light and airy feel, along with much of the technology used in the A3 concept, will make it into production cars in the very near future. Its movable speakers and instrument panel display screen are already found in high-end models like the A8.

To carry all the new technology, the A3 concept uses McPherson strut suspension in front, with the majority of the components made of aluminum. The rear suspension uses a 4-link set-up that is mounted on a separate sub-frame to help isolate the body from road noise and vibration. The A3 also uses Audi's Drive Select system with five different modes to suit different driving conditions. The wheels use a combination of aluminum and Carbon-Fiber Reinforced Plastic, or CFRP. At 20 inches, the wheel size is larger than what you would expect to find on a compact sedan, but so is the equally large 245/30/20 tire size.

Audi should make the production A3 sedan just like the concept A3 sedan (and add the same power to the A3 hatch). It would blow away the BMW 1 Series, Acura TSX, Subaru WRX, Buick Verano, and others in this class and set Audi apart.

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