Audi engineers must have worked overtime in order to produce the all-new 2015 Audi A3 – not only did the German automaker unveil a new sedan at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show, but an entire lineup was conceived. The new A3 family is made up of the sporty Sedan, the plug-in hybrid e-tron and TDI, rounded out by the Cabriolet convertible and performance-inspired S3 Sedan.
In an effort to dominate the compact luxury car segment, Scott Keogh, President of Audi of America said it best at the press conference, “We didn’t just dip a toe into the compact luxury car segment – we absolutely dove right in.”
We didn’t just dip a toe into the compact luxury car segment – we absolutely dove right in.
Additionally, instead of designing a car exclusively for the younger automotive consumer, Audi chose to appeal to “Generation Audi,” a name the automaker created to describe a range of demographics.
In terms of competition, the new 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 is as close as it gets. Both the A3 and CLA have the same base MSRP of about $30000 but perhaps most importantly: Will the A3 have to compete with a vehicle that sits closer to home – the current A4?
Joe Jacuzzi, Chief Communications Officer responded with:
“Not really. I think there’s always some crossover, but the fact is that the A3 is in a segment whereby all of the vehicles in that segment have moved up. If you look at the BMW 3 Series, the Audi A4, and the Mercedes C-Class, they have all become bigger vehicles to fit the demands of the customer. The A3, like the Mercedes-Benz CLA fits in the segment where folks are looking for a smaller more price-positioned vehicle, so the A3 and A4 complement each other very well.”
As for the German automaker’s current financial profile, it was announced at the press conference that November will be Audi’s 35th consecutive month of record sales; however, in order to survive, the company must continue to grow. In an effort to accomplish this, the automaker created the A3 lineup and designed it for American taste, made up of mostly sedans, with the exception of the e-tron hatchback.
Audi introduced a new sportback plug-in hybrid into its lineup, the 2015 e-tron. According to Audi, sustainable mobility was the main focus when designing the four-door hatchback, as well as an alternative drive system. It comes equipped with a 1.4L turbocharged gasoline engine integrated into a six-speed automatic transmission. Impressively, it features a combined output of 201hp and 258 lb-ft of torque when the 100hp e-motor is also engaged. Audi has not specified its electric range capability. It won’t be available until early 2015.
Audi said farewell to the A3 hatchback and replaced it with the Audi A3 Sedan. The base model will go on sale in the spring of 2014 and carries a base MSRP of $29900 (before destination charge). It comes equipped with a 1.8L turbocharged engine capable of producing 170hp using a six-speed automatic transmission.
According to Audi, smaller doesn’t have to equal sacrifice, so even the base model comes standard with leather seats, xenon headlights, panoramic sunroof, and Bluetooth connectivity.
The AWD S3 variant is Audi’s performance-oriented model, and comes equipped with a high-output 2.0L turbocharged engine, which makes an estimated 290hp. Other features include a six-speed automatic transmission, sport-tuned suspension, and 19” wheels.
The TDI clean diesel variant will feature a 2.0L turbocharged engine with a claimed 150hp output. It will be available in the fall of 2014.
If cruising around town with the top down is more your style, the Cabriolet soft-top is worth checking out. It’s the only model in the segment that comes with Quattro technology, according to Audi, and a top that opens or closes in less than 18 seconds, while driving up to 31mph.
Two powertrain options are available for this variant, including a 1.8L or 2.0L turbocharged engine. Optional LED headlights are available. This convertible will be available in the fall of 2014.
With this new lineup, Audi can put up a formidable fight against its competitors. Only time will tell if A3 sales will bite into the CLA’s, but we suspect a close match.