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Audi A3 Sportback: 2012 Paris Auto Show

 
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2014 Audi A3 Sportback

After tracking the new Audi A3 Sportback's progress in spy shots since this summer, we now see the official production version--but we won't get this car here in the U.S., according to Audi USA corporate communications manager Brad Stertz. Instead, we'll get the just-for-us A3 sedan.

European engine options include a 1.2-liter TFSI, a 1.4-liter TFSI a 1.6-liter TDI, a 2.0-liter TDI, and a 1.8-liter TFSI. The latter two are the most interesting, combining a fair amount of sport with a reasonable degree of efficiency. The 2.0-liter diesel generates 184 horsepower and a stout 280 pound-feet of torque, certainly enough to feel peppy and quick on wide-open American highways, with a stated 0-62 mph time of 7.4 seconds. It's fuel-efficient, too, at 54.7 U.S. mpg.

The 1.8 TFSI gasoline engine rates 180 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, somehow enabling a slightly quicker run to 62 mph of 7.3 seconds, while still scoring 42 U.S. mpg. Gear changes are handled by either a manual six-speed transmission or a dual-clutch option with either six or seven gears, depending on the engine pairing.

The real hook with the A3 Sportback, however, is the five-door utility that's packaged around these engines. If the form factor sounds familiar, that's as it should be: the car we know simply as the A3 is very similar. This new version, however, is up to 188 pounds lighter than the previous five-door A3, weighing in at just 2,656 pounds--a stunningly light figure for a car of its class; that's lighter than the Scion FR-S.

Audi gets there with the A3 Sportback through the use of high- and ultra-high-strength steels and aluminum body panels and castings. Improving efficiency isn't all about shedding weight, however, and the new A3 Sportback gets a drag coefficient of 0.30--fair, but not amazing--to help it ease through the air.

For those with sport on the mind, however, a pair of sport suspensions offer 15 or 25 mm lowering, respectively, and presumably stiffer roll rates and improved damping.

2014 Audi A3 Sportback

2014 Audi A3 Sportback

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In the console, Audi's latest MMI system handles the media and navigation functions, powered by an Nvidia Tegra 2-series T-20 graphics processor. Displays of either 5.8 inches or 7 inches are available with MMI. The top version of the system includes 60 GB of onboard storage for music, a DVD drive, and "whole-word" voice control. An optional Bang & Olufsen sound system rated at 705 watts through 5.1 channels over 14 speakers offers a step up for the audiophiles.

We could go on about the A3 Sportback's Audi Connect WLAN hotspot features, Google Earth access, or cloud-based "Picturebook Navigation," but it would only get us riled up for what we can't have.

File this one under Forbidden Fruit.


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