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THREE TO THE FORE (some text hidden)
BY ANDY ENRIGHT
Introductionword count: 91
How quickly things change. The first Audi A3 was hailed as a landmark in small car quality but seven years is a long time in this market and by 2003, things had changed. What was once deemed superior build quality had become rather run of the mill. Audi realised that if they wanted to preserve their pricing differential over the Mk V Volkswagen Golf, something special was required. That something special was the second generation A3 range. As a used buy, a compact car doesn't get much more bulletproof than this.
Modelsword count: 20
Models Covered: 3 & 5dr hatch [1.4, 1.6, 1.8, 2.0, 3.2 petrol, 1.6, 1.9, 2.0 diesel (Sport, SE, S line)]
Historyword count: 398
The original Audi A3 changed the way many premium manufacturers thought about small cars. Although Mercedes had a go at adding value to the sector with the C Class Sport Coupe, it just wasn't special enough and nor was BMW's 3 Series Compact. Audi had thought long and hard about what buyers in this sector wanted and they certainly didn't want a 'lite' option of an existing model - which was what the BMW and Mercedes in effect represented. Therefore the A3 had to be substantially different to the A4. This formula has served the Ingolstadt company well and was reprised when the second generation A3 was launched in summer 2003. With a range of high tech engines, the A3 was launched as a three door variant only, with initially no sporty 'S' versions and quattro all-wheel drive transmissions only fitted to the top of the range 3.2-litre cars. In summer 2004 the A3 Sportback five-door model was announced, offering a longer car for five-door customers and later that year a 1.6-litre FSI engine was introduced. The impressive 2.0-litre FSI turbo unit that powered the Golf GTi was also made available in the A3. All 3-door cars sold from early summer 2005 were given the Audi 'single frame' grille. This featured on the Sportback from launch as well as on most of the other Audi models by this time. The S-line sport pack was also made more widely available, bringing an added sporty dimension to the car. The 2.0 TDI 170 diesel engine was introduced in the summer or 2006 and the impressive DSG gearbox became known as S Tronic at around the same time. The S3 put in its appearance during the autumn of 2006 and it did so with a 263bhp version of the 3.2 V6 engine up front. Then, later that year, the normally-aspirated 2.0-litre FSI engine was given the old heave-ho in favour of a 1.8-litre turbo FSI unit with 158bhp. This was followed in mid 2007 by the 1.4 TFSI which replaced the 1.6 FSI. In mid 2008 the A3 underwent a facelift across the range. Stylish improvements to the vehicle included the front wings and the grille becoming shapelier, the headlights were made sharper-looking and the side repeaters were incorporated into the door mirrors. A 2.0-litre common-rail engine was introduced. This was followed in summer 2009 by a 1.6-litre TDI common-rail engine.
What You Getword count: 288
Longer, wider and lower than its predecessor, here is a car that has punted the A3 back into pole position as the item of choice for the discerning young professional. The most obvious change over the previous generation car is the increase in wheelbase. The styling is largely evolutionary, remaining obviously an A3, only looking a little stretched. The additional 65mm in wheelbase has rectified one of the old A3's faults, namely that rear seat accommodation was a bit pinched. The extra 30mm of width also helps a little with shoulder room. Three-door versions arrived first with five-door Sportback models arriving later. That mirrors the evolution of the old A3 range and, like the old A3, this version rides on Golf underpinnings. Not just any old Golf though. The A3 was the first car to use the 2004 model Golf chassis, a vehicle platform that allows for far more customisation than before. In a way, it's the Volkswagen Group's tacit admission that certain Audi/SEAT/Skoda/VW models of the past were a little too similar to justify their vastly divergent prices. The Mk V Golf platform allows more far more components to be chopped and changed, making for more variation and more choice for customers. Standard safety equipment includes window airbags, electronic stability control, ABS, brake assist, a part-electric power steering system and anti-whiplash head restraints. The cabin has been restyled to offer a little more design flair, Audi realising that high quality alone isn't enough to lure buyers into showrooms. There has to be some style on display too. The fascia struts ape the interior design of the TT, as do the round air vents and chrome-rimmed dials. It's still not what you'd call revolutionary, but it's beautifully executed.
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Category: Compact Family Cars
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