Audi opens Geneva auto show with stunning new A3 sedan concept

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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When Audi delivers a production version of its new A3 sedan concept, don't expect to see all the carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) add-ons flaunted here on the Geneva auto show stage. Nevertheless, the general shape of the new compact prototype may be enough to woo entry-level luxury buyers away from BMW and its popular 1 Series, not to mention Mercedes-Benz and its unorthodox B-Class.

Actually, the compact luxury segment has been filling up lately, with Lexus now having entered the fray and more from Buick, Cadillac and Infiniti on the way. And while the A3 Sportback (wagon) has scooped up its fair share of premium buyers throughout its tenure, an A3 sedan would solidify the brand's position in the C-segment and, if it looks as good as this concept when produced, no doubt expand Audi's sales dramatically.

It's definitely a compact too, measuring only 4.44 meters (14.57 feet) long and 1.84 meters (6.04 feet) wide, and just 1.39 meters (4.56 feet) tall. Its low roofline gives the A3 sedan concept more visual length, adding to its sporty demeanor. Small for sure, but its notchback trunk houses a lot of luggage at 410 liters (14.48 cubic feet) and reportedly provides a low liftover for easy loading.

The A3 sedan concept boasts a "low" curb weight of 1,540 kilos (3,395 lbs), claiming that all the carbon fibre has helped to reduce its weight, although the current A3 hits the scales at 1,480 kilograms (3,263 lbs) and it's a heavier wagon body style. What gives? All the features of this fully loaded concept weigh it down, including what's under the hood.

The A3 sedan concept's powertrain likely won't make production, however, at least not in anything but RS guise, at which point those carbon fibre bits might be added on again. The engine pays homage to rally-winning Audi's of yore just by being a 2.5-litre inline five-cylinder optimized by a big fat turbo, and thanks additionally to FSI churns out 408 horsepower and 368 lb-ft of torque from as low as 1,600 rpm. Audi claims a 4.1-second 100km/h sprint, while top-speed is limited to 250 km/h (155 mph). Fuel economy? You might say who cares, but Audi has to care thanks to today's regulations, and surprisingly it's estimated at 9.1 L/100km (25.85 U.S. mpg). Additionally, emissions are rated at 212 grams CO2 per km (341.18 gram/mile).

Its paddle-shift actuated 7-speed S tronic dual clutch sequential manual gearbox is likely part of the reason the A3 sedan concept is so efficient, despite drag from its quattro permanent all-wheel drive system and its meaty 245/30 rubber housed within ultra-lightweight 20-inch CFRP and aluminum rims. The new concept rides on a modified version of the current RS 3 Sportback undercarriage, so rest assured that those big wheels and tires are hardly overkill. The MacPherson strut front and four-link rear suspension is made up of high-strength steel and aluminum components for low mass and durability, allowing for agility in the corners, while four-piston calipers bite down on the front discs.

Of course the car includes all the latest electronic goodies Audi offers, such as its latest infotainment system, MMI touch. The prototype sedan also gets full internet access via WLAN hotspot technology, and iPad holders have been installed on the backs of the front seat backrests.

We shouldn't have to wait too long for a toned down production version of this brilliant little sedan, only because Audi won't want to miss out on all the money it's going to make selling it.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sport Sedan, Audi, 2011, A3 Sedan Concept, Compact,

Geographic location: Geneva

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