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Audi A3 gains new tech and engine

  • Updated Audi A3 features new gadgets and a 1-litre petrol engine
  • Options include Virtual Cockpit and Matrix LED headlights
  • Choosing a premium hatchback harder than ever for company car drivers

Looking to shake up the hatchback company car market is an updated Audi A3 featuring new technology, cleaner engines and a bigger standard specification.

Headline additions include Audi's digital Virtual Cockpit, which replaces the analogue rev and speedometer dials with a 12.3-inch display.

There’s also a 1-litre petrol version which should deliver low CO2 and provide business users with a realistic alternative to diesel.

More gadgets as standard and new options

All Audi A3 three- and five-door (or Sportback) cars will now feature cruise control, light and rain sensors and a three-spoke multi-function steering wheel.

You also get a smartphone interface and the optional Audi Phone Box in the centre console, which features wireless charging and connection to the antenna, and allows the connection of two smartphones via Bluetooth.

Other interior enhancements include the optional Virtual Cockpit, which flicks between dials and sat-nav mapping at the touch of a button.

Navigation is still optional on the base-spec car (standard on SE Technik and above), unlike the BMW 1 Series, which now features this across the range.

Also optional is the enhanced MMI Navigation Plus, which brings online functions such as Google Earth and Google Street View, traffic information in real-time plus news and weather.

Diesel or petrol?

The inclusion of the 1-litre TFSI petrol engine we’ve seen in the A1 means company car drivers now have a low CO2 unit to choose from outside the diesel line-up.

No emissions figures have been released yet but this engine produces less than 100g/km of CO2 in the smaller A1.

There’s no power compromise either, with 114bhp and 200Nm of torque delivered between 2,000 and 3,500rpm.

The fact it has three cylinders means low weight too, with the 1-litre A3 coming in at 1,150 kg – the lightest in its class.

Diesel-wise the entry-level 1.6 TDI with 108bhp remains, and you can also pick the 2-litre, four-cylinder TDI diesel engine with 148bhp or 182bhp.

Larger 2-litre petrol engines now use a seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch automatic transmission, replacing the previous six-speed unit.

Driver assistance tech gets a boost 

The Traffic Jam Assist system uses the adaptive cruise control and active lane assist to pilot the car in a jam, maintaining a gap from the car in front and keeping you between the white lines.

Rear cross-traffic assist helps alert you to approaching vehicles while reversing out of a parking space, and Pre-sense Front keeps an eye out for pedestrians and cars while driving around town.

Safety at night can be further enhanced with Matrix LED headlights. These use clusters of LEDs that can be turned on and off to blank out parts of the beam pattern to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic, ensuring the most amount of light is available all the time.

The plug-in hybrid A3 Sportback e-tron with its 176mpg capability and 37g/km CO2 output will also make its debut in updated form later in 2016. 

Order books open in May while the first cars will arrive in late summer 2016. Keep an eye on the Parkers website for a full review of this new Audi A3.