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http://www.autoweek.com/cat_content.mv?port_code=autoweek&cat_code=reviews&loc_code=index&content_code=09339417







2004 Audi A3 three-door
Audi’s odd number: The 2004 European A3 three-door previews North America’s five-door

By MATT DAVIS


AFTER YEARS OF LOVING AUDI’S 4s, 6s and 8s, North Americans are finally in line to get Ingolstadt’s much-lauded 3. The obvious “because” to why we never got the first-generation A3 launched in 1996 is that our continent hasn’t taken too kindly to hatchbacks—until recently, at least.

Making our first A3 a five-door helps, and the grand leap of faith officially begins in June 2004. We’ll see our 2005 Audi A3 five-door for the first time on Yankee soil at the Detroit auto show in 2004, but couldn’t resist the offer to play on Sardinia’s little roads with the not-for-North America three-door first seen at March’s Geneva motor show, going on sale in Germany as you read this.

2004 AUDI A3 THREE-DOOR
ON SALE: Now (Germany)
BASE PRICE: $23,500
POWERTRAIN: 2.0-liter, 148-hp, 147-lb-ft I4; fwd, six-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT: 2811 pounds
0-60 MPH: 9.0 SECONDS (MFR.)



Golf-sized it may be, but touch anything on the inside or outside of the second-generation A3 and your fingers tell your brain immediately that this is Teutonic excellence. This A3 has had much input from Audi group design boss Walter de’ Silva, and the project’s design team leader was Audi brand design boss Gerhard Pfefferle. Three primary alterations are the meaner face, the broader and higher shoulders, and the greater size inside and out.

That this first production Audi overseen by de’ Silva looks the way it does comes as little surprise. Go look at some photos of the latest Seat Ibiza, the Alfa-Romeo 147 and even the production Lamborghini Gallardo. The man is in love with high shoulder lines, low H-points, honest interior room and a fairly consistent feline facial treatment. This might have been carried to excess here since you’re sitting low; the plastic ratchet handle on each front seat regulates height, but it doesn’t compensate quite enough.

After the new A4 convertible, the A3 is the next to adopt much of the sport feeling of the TT interior. All the air vents are round and there are the console-mounted grab braces either side of the tunnel. And it’s spacious for its class. The 60.5-inch front track is wider than on the A4. The architecture used is Volkswagen’s PQ35; we’ll see it in North America at the end of this year on the fifth-generation Golf.

Rear suspension is now a multilink independent setup, and getting the optional sport suspension makes this revelation even more revelatory. Without quattro there is some push through turns when at the limit, but it’s reined in easily. A new electromechanical steering system feels absolutely smooth, without being numb at any speed. Our enthusiastic handling exercises on the standard 16-inch and optional 17-inch alloys revealed a new Audi technology that will bring in a lot of new buyers just because the feel at the wheel is so pleasant and precise.

The base engine in America probably will be a 2.0-liter FSI (fuel stratified injection) direct-injection gas unit first used in the new European A4 with 148 hp at 6000 rpm and 147 lb-ft of torque between 3300 and 4300 rpm. It delivers a 9.0-second 0-to-60-mph time and long-legged freeway performance. The first five gears in the 2.0-liter FSI are fairly short for better acceleration, and sixth gear is a 0.816:1 overdrive. It gave off quite a high-pitched background whine that left us hoping noise isolation might be upgraded for North America. Average mileage for combined city/highway driving in the FSI is an impressive 34.2 mpg.

The other engine is the modified 3.2-liter version of the VR6 also coming at the end of the year in both the Golf R32 and TT. This engine (with standard quattro) creates 237 horsepower at 6200 rpm and 236 lb-ft of torque between 2500 and 3000 rpm, with a 6.5-second dash to 60 mph.

The VR6 quattro was unavailable for our island test. Nor was there an A3 with the six-speed Tiptronic autostick, with the optional two-clutch Direct Shift Gearbox that so pleased us in the TT V6, or with the Dynamic Shift Program. All are meant for us, and will arrive in September at the time of the Frankfurt motor show.

Keeping in mind North America’s starting price for the 1.8-liter A4 sedan of $24,950, the German equivalent of MSRP for the 2.0-liter FSI A3 three-door in basic trim is roughly $23,500 at current exchange rates. The 3.2 V6 quattro in top trim will start at around $33,000 in Germany in October. Given all this price overlap between the new A3 and A4, the North American sales numbers should be interesting to watch.
 

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We are getting the R32, I dont think we need 2 bloated 3200lb+ V6 all wheel drive hatchbacks that are $28k+
 

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Originally posted by kyknphokuz:
i'll be the first to ask: ARE WE GETTING THE S3?


oh yeah, my friend said he saw an A3 driving around Seattle the other day
<font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial">If it was dark blue, then that is one fast car! I got to drive it.
 

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Oh yeah....daddy likey. I've liked those A3's for some time. I'd really like to get one of those as a nicer ZX5. The 3door looks a little better, but I'd end up getting a 5 door. Wonder when these would be available at the dealer lots?
 

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every time i see an A3 i think "oh look, its an Audi Golf"

heh

yeah we dont need the S3 and the R32.

so just dont bring the R32 and give us the S3.

heh
 

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Small Car Czar
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This car is going to be marketed to a fairly narrow niche. They are not interested in competing with VW head-to-head on price.

I'm sure their sales targets will be modest, at least initially, and they will probably sell all of them they import.
 

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VW has to pull their head out of their back side. How many Audi A-4's have you seen that sticker price for less than $29K? I have not seen any. Hell, most of the VW's equipped with minimal "stuff" MSRP for $21K+
If the platform of the Golf/A3 can pass the US crash tests and VW has the engines why not bring over the entire SEAT or SKODA line as an entry level of car? A first time buyer could buy a SEAT Ibeza, then trade up to a VW Jetta and when the big promotion kicks in trade in to a Audi A-4/ A-6
VW is a car that I would like to buy for about $17-18K for a GTi with 1.8T engine. Hell if it has a SKODA emblem on it I could care less.
 

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Where is my @#$ antenna?!
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I would buy one as my next car. I like audis alot, and I like hatchbacks alot. I think the A3 is one of the best looking out there. Mo brainer for me
 

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For some-odd reason, the Audi A3 reminds me of a "new" VW Corrado.
 
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