2010 Audi A3 TDI Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2009
FAST FACTS
  • Expected 40-plus mpg highway ratings
  • Audi's second U.S.-bound diesel model
  • 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel powerplant
  • Standard S tronic (dual clutch) automatic transmission
  • All TDI models are front-wheel drive
  • Satellite radio standard
  • Leather seating is standard
  • On sale in early 2010

Introduction

The 5-door Audi A3 hatchback offers European engineering in a compact package with room for five people. Available in the European market since 1996, the A3 didn't arrive in North America until 2005 (2006 model year), when the second-generation version arrived on our shores. Loaded with trickle-down amenities from its big brothers, the Audi A4 and Audi A6, as well as technology and refinement levels more often reserved for models costing much more, the Audi A3 represents a competitive package in a fresh segment occupied by the BMW 1 Series, Mini Cooper S, Volkswagen GTI, and Volvo C30. Until now, the Audi A3 has been offered for sale in North America only with gasoline engines. In 2010, Audi introduces the A3 TDI, equipped with a fuel-efficient 2.0-liter clean-diesel engine. It is expected in showrooms during the first quarter of 2010.

Model Lineup

While the Audi A3 2.0 TDI (Turbocharged Direct Injection) is a new model in the lineup, most of its equipment and options mirror that found on the gasoline-powered Audi A3 2.0T and Audi A3 3.2 models (both are expected to remain in the lineup for 2010). All TDIs feature standard dual-zone air conditioning with automatic climate control, cruise control, and the Audi Concert II AM/FM stereo with single in-dash CD player and satellite radio. Audi's Open Sky system, a 2-part panoramic glass sunroof, is also standard on the TDI, along with leather seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and 17-inch alloy wheels. Major packages and options include the Premium package, Audio package, Technology package, and the Cold Weather package. The DVD-based Audi Navigation Plus system is available as a stand-alone option.

Hardware

The big news for 2010 is found under the hood. Joining the 4-cylinder A3 2.0T and 6-cylinder A3 3.2 will be the A3 2.0 TDI with Audi's clean-burning diesel powerplant. Displacing 2.0 liters, the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is rated at 140 horsepower and 236 lb.-ft. of torque (the torque figure matches that of the 3.2-liter V-6 engine). The 50-state-legal powerplant features common-rail direct injection and piezoelectric injectors for highly efficient combustion. The standard transmission will be Audi's S tronic dual clutch automatic, driving the front wheels. While official EPA fuel-economy figures have not been released, the A3 2.0 TDI is expected to earn a rating of more than 40 mpg on the highway, according to the manufacturer, making for an impressive cruising range.

The standard MacPherson strut front suspension and 4-link independent rear suspension were designed for sporty and agile handling. All A3 TDI models feature electromechanical steering with speed-dependent power assistance, 4-wheel disc brakes, and an anti-lock braking system (ABS).

Safety

The driver and front passenger are protected by the A3's 2-stage, next-generation front air bags and side air bags with seat occupant sensors. Audi's Sideguard head-protection air bags for front and rear occupants are also standard, with rear side air bags optional. An Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP) is also standard equipment. The current-generation Audi A3 (2006-2009) has been crash tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and earned a "Good" rating for the frontal offset test, and a "Good" rating for the side-impact test-the highest ratings issued by the Institute. The 2009 Audi A3 was chosen by the IIHS as a "Top Safety Pick" for 2009.

Technology

Audi's approach to the automatic transmission is revolutionary. Unlike most automatic transmissions with gears and inefficient fluid-filled torque converters, the "S tronic" direct-shift gearbox contains two wet plate-type clutches-much like a conventional manual transmission. The S tronic utilizes these clutches in sequence-and within a fraction of a second-to allow gearshifts to be made without power interruptions. Acceleration is as fast (or faster) than most drivers can operate a manual transmission. Though it is computer-regulated, the driver still has final control over the system. Shifting can be called for manually at the gear lever or through the steering-wheel-mounted paddles. In automatic mode, the driver is able to choose between "sport" or "comfort" settings to regulate the intensity (and smoothness) of the shifts. Audi has made this highly-efficient gearbox standard on all 2010 Audi A3 2.0 TDI models.
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