The A3 Sportback competes with popular wagons like the Subaru Forester for consumers in Europe and North America. Audi is fusing the model’s spacious profile with greener drive systems and lightweight design starting in the next model year. The revamped A3 Sportback will be available in six gasoline and diesel models that represent at least 10% improvement in fuel economy. Audi also unveiled plans for alt-fuel and plug-in hybrid versions of the Sportback starting in 2014. This onslaught of gas, diesel and green versions of a sporty model allows Audi to hit potential consumers at all levels.
Audi claims that the 1.6 TDI engine achieves the best fuel economy with an estimated 61.9 miles per gallon. This upgraded estimate emerges in part from a six-speed manual transmission that is finely tuned to respond quickly to a driver’s needs. The A3 Sportback significantly reduces carbon emissions from previous models with estimated emissions of 159 grams per mile. Drivers can hit 60 miles per hour from a dead stop in 10.9 seconds according to Audi. A top speed of 120 MPH shows sufficient engine power to keep up with highway traffic without wasted fuel or emissions.
Advanced vehicle design is often overlooked by consumers wowed by speed, gas mileage and comfort. Audi has gone to great lengths to reduce curb weight across the A3 Sportback family. The curb weight of the typical A3 Sportback will be about 2,656 pounds, which is a reduction of 198 pounds compared to the previous generation. Engineers used hot-shaped steel when constructing the vehicle frame in order to save 81.5 pounds in the cockpit. Audi also replaced heavier metals for aluminum when developing the hood, fenders and exterior panels. The use of aluminum saved another 26.4 pounds from the vehicle weight. The A3 Sportback is not only lightweight but also reduces road noise and achieves low resistance.
Future versions of the Audi A3 Sportback should improve fuel consumption even further by opting for alternative approaches. The automaker plans to drop an 8 kW TCNG engine into the Sportback using a proprietary fuel called e-gas. Audi notes that emissions could be as low as the 48.2 grams per mile in this alt-fuel version. A plug-in hybrid version of the A3 Sportback with the e-tron drive system could be introduced as early as 2014. This system has already been tested on the international racing circuit but could significantly reduce emissions in commuting situations.
The Audi A3 Sportback expands the vehicle line significantly with multiple engine makes and transmissions. A manual transmission can be swapped out for the S-tronic transmission designed to provide intuitive shifting using paddles on the steering wheel. The auto industry is heading in the direction indicated by Audi, opting for lighter frames and highly efficient engines to meet consumer expectations. We should be concerned that automakers might be content to focus merely on fuel economy rather than emissions or using alternative fuels. The A3 Sportback demonstrates a cost-efficient method for introducing greener vehicles without developing multiple models.