For the 2012 motorsport season, Audi introduced an enhanced version of its R18 Le Mans prototype dubbed the R18 ultra. Unlike the R18 e-tron quattro that was also introduced for the 2012 season, the R18 ultra’s development was completely focused on lightweight construction. We then saw Audi transfer the ultra philosophy to its R8 LMS race car platform and eventually to a concept car based on the TT.
Now, finally, Audi has introduced its first production ultra model, but sadly it’s no extreme performance machine. Audi’s first ultra model is a humble A3 TDI hatch the company says is its most fuel-efficient car ever launched.
Called the A3 1.6 TDI ultra, the car develops a peak 110 horsepower and is said to be capable of returning an incredible 73.5 mpg on the European combined cycle. The car is also claimed to be capable of driving 932 miles on a full tank.
It gets its ultra designation because of its lightened curb weight, which comes in at 2,656 pounds. Most of the diesel A3s weigh more than 2,700 pounds.
It should be noted that Audi ultra doesn’t exclusively mean lightweight construction but rather the systematic sustainability concerning all aspects of a car and its construction. Thus, to further improve efficiency, the A3 1.6 TDI ultra’s aerodynamics have also been improved with the addition of some S line exterior trim, the car’s ride height lowered by 15 millimeters compared to the regular A3, low rolling resistant tires fitted, and a longer final drive ratio implemented.
In coming months, Audi will unveil more ultra models. Like this Audi A3 1.6 TDI ultra, they will distinguish themselves thanks to a considerable focus on technology aimed at reducing fuel consumption and emissions. Previously, Audi used a lower case e to signify its most efficient models.
While sales of the A3 1.6 TDI ultra commence in Europe this September, don’t expect it to land in U.S. showrooms when the rest of the redesigned 2015 Audi A3 range arrives early next year. There will be a diesel A3, but this model will sport a 2.0-liter TDI engine and generate 150 horsepower.