2015 Audi A3 and Audi S3 first look: Look now, wait ’til then

US Audi prez debuts 2015 Audi S3 before NYIAS

US Audi prez debuts 2015 Audi S3 before NYIAS

It seems like an awfully long time to wait. The next generation Audi A3 won’t arrive until Spring 2014 as a 2015 model, yet Audi elected to use the 2013 New York International Auto Show to introduce a production ready example of the new Audi  A3 sedan as well as the high performance S3 version that will arrive at the same time.

One message from that announcement is that those who hanker for the current hatchback version of the Audi A3 still have time to get one. But with the American aversion to hatchbacks in general and more specifically to luxury cars with a hatch, the next generation of the A3 for America (and oddly enough, China) will be only—with one exception, more about which later—be available as a sedan.

A high-output direct-injection turbocharged 2.0-liter four will power the 2015 Audi S3

A high-output direct-injection turbocharged 2.0-liter four will power the 2015 Audi S3. (click to enlarge)

The sedan, however, is important because Audi calls entry-level luxury the fastest growing market segment (although it seems every manufacturer says that about the market segment for the model currently being introduced).

The 2014 Audi A3/S3 sedan also fills a gap in the Audi model line. The Audi A4 has grown over the last decade. The 2013 Audi A4 is six inches longer than the 2002, and the wheelbase has gone from 104 inches to 110.6 inches, a definite move up in size. The familiar eye sees dimensions of the new A3 sedan about the same as the earlier Audi A4. The A3 is three inches shorter overall, at 175.5 inches in length, and with an almost identical 103.4 inch wheelbase.

The 2015 Audi A3/S3 has in fact, from its new take on the Audi “single frame” grille on back, a completely new body, and with extensive use of aluminum and high-strength steel, will be lighter than competing models.

2015 Audi S3 interior

The thin popup screen on the Audi A3/S3 dash top is meant to evoke personal electronic devices; quilted sports seats are standard in the S3. (click to enlarge)

The bigger A4 has also moved up in price, something that fans of the smaller, earlier A4 will find as a sticker shock when it comes to renew. Not that the new Audi A3/S3 sedans will be inexpensive. Scott Keogh, president of Audi of America, said as much about any car that wants to compete in the premium small car market. Cheap is not an option.

Even base models will have leather upholstery, Bluetooth technology, rain sensing wipers, Audi pre sense basic (helps detect when an emergency maneuver is being made and prepares the vehicle and occupant restraint systems in advance of a possible collision), and a panoramic glass sunroof.

Premium options will be available too. Audi claims that the 2015 Audi A3 will be the first A-segment vehicle to offer MMI technology, 4G LTE connectivity and Bang & Olufsen audio. Audi drive select, which allows the driver to adjust throttle response, shift points, and the electromechanical steering effort, with four settings that include Auto, Dynamic, Comfort and Individual (setting elements individually) will also be offered. A segment first is the option of full LED headlamps.

2015 Audi S3 (click to enlarge)

2015 Audi S3

Also to be featured on the 2015 A3/S3 is Audi phone box, a compartment under the center armrest that will boost a mobile phone’s cellular coverage by wirelessly coupling to a specialized antenna in the rear windshield.

Another segment first is “the new NVIDIA graphics processing unit (GPU). The NVIDIA GPU generates complex three-dimensional images used in all online, voice control, media navigation and telephone functions. Fundamentally, the Tegra graphics processor powers tablets and other mobile devices and is also used in 3D gaming and various medical applications.” It’s not something that you will see, but rather you’ll something you’ll see the effect of.

U.S. Audi prez Scott Keogh points out details on the rear of the 2015 Audi A3 TDI.

U.S. Audi prez Scott Keogh points out details on the rear of the 2015 Audi A3 TDI. (click to enlarge)

The 2015 Audi A3/S3 will have a choice of four engine options. The base engine will be a 170 horsepower 1.8 TFSI, a 150 horsepower 2.0 TDI clean diesel, and a low and high-output 2.0 TFSI used in the A3 quattro and S3 quattro respectively. Power ratings for the 2.0 TFSI models will be announced closer to launch.

Keogh noted that half of all A3/S3 production will be sedans, with the remainder being hatchbacks not available in the U.S. Keogh noted, however, that Audi has heard the voices of hatchback fans and will continue the model in the U.S. as a plug-in hybrid. Details to be released later.

Sort of like the new 2015 Audi A3 and S3 sedans. Guess we’ll have to wait.

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