After going against the grain by introducing the A3 to the U.S. market in hatchback-only form, Audi is quietly capitulating to prevailing tastes by offering the 2014 A3 in a conventional four-door sedan for the 2014 model year. The timing of this new model could not be more coincidental with the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz CLA, which closely matches the Audi in price-point and packaging. This formerly forgotten market segment is about to heat up. The A3 sedan was also shown at last month's 2013 New York Auto Show.
For conventionally-powered A3s in the U.S., the sedan will be the only choice. Customers opting for the e-Tron plug-in hybrid will be able to get it in a five-door. Based on Volkswagen's new corporate MQB platform, the new A3 is slightly larger than its hatch predecessor, but still casts a modest shadow. The 103.9-inch wheelbase is 2.4 inches longer than the outgoing A3 hatch, and its overall length is 6.7 inches longer. Despite these tidy dimensions, the new A3 sedan has a generous 15.1 cubic feet of trunk space.
Another advantage of the new platform is significantly lighter weight. Equipped with the 1.4-liter TFSI engine, the new A3 weighs only 2756 lb, almost 400 lb lighter than the lightest U.S. spec 2013 A3 hatch. The U.S.-spec A3 is not expected to get the 1.4-liter engine. The engine lineup for the U.S. is expected to consist of a 1.8-liter turbo I-4 producing 180 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, and an optional 150-hp 2.0-liter TDI diesel producing 236 lb-ft of torque, and a 2.0-liter I-4 for the A3 Quattro model. The new hot-rod S3 sedan will have a higher-pressure 2.0-liter turbocharged engine making 300 hp an 280 lb-ft of torque. The S3 is projected to deliver a quick 0-60 time of less than 4.9 seconds.
Audis have lately become known for their high-technology cabins, and the 2014 A3 sedan carries forth that tradition with an upated MMI navigation system, available 705-watt, 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, and built-in LTE 4G mobile connectivity. The navigation system utilizes Google Earth and Google street view for up-to-date directions.
Beyond the cabin, the new A3 offers available adaptive cruise control and Audi pre sense emergency braking. On models equipped with automatic (S-Tronic) transmissions, the cruise control option will bring the car back up to speed after slowing down.
Sales will begin this summer in Europe starting at $32,626. The new A3 is expected to go on sale in the U.S. in early calendar 2014 as a 2014 model.