Audi A3 Concept revealed
2nd March, 2011
Audi has revealed an attractive technical study – the
A3 concept – at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show (3rd-13th March). The four-seat 'notchback' sedan
integrates the full breadth of the brand’s technological expertise – from the improved MMI operating
system, to the high-tech infotainment system, to the drivetrain. A five-cylinder turbo developing 300
kW (408 hp), a seven-speed S tronic and quattro permanent all-wheel drive ensure thrilling dynamics
along with high fuel efficiency.
Design and body
The Audi A3 concept is a four-seat notchback sedan. It measures 4.44 metres (14.57 ft) long and
1.84 metres (6.04 ft) wide, but just 1.39 metres (4.56 ft) high – proportions that underscore its
The design represents the typical Audi language of sporty elegance. The single-frame grille is
integrated into the front end, giving it a sculptured look. Its frame is made of
carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP), and the transversely mounted, three-dimensional aluminium
louvres provide a visual effect that emphasises the show car’s width. The headlights merge with the
beveled upper corners of the single-frame, forming a transition that marks the starting point of the
prominently accentuated lines of the engine bonnet.
The headlights represent a new stage of evolution in LED technology, a groundbreaking innovation
from Audi. They become broader as they extend outward, and a line underneath them makes them seem to
float on air. Above the front spoiler is a full-length air intake, also made of CFRP, framed by a
metal clasp. The spoiler features a splitter that raises the downforce on the front wheels.
When viewed from the side, too, the Audi A3 concept is recognisable at first sight as an Audi.
Harmonious proportions, taut, 'muscular' surfaces and a low roof dome with fluid lines flowing into
a flat, coupé-like C-pillar. The shoulder area transitions elegantly into the tailgate.
Characteristic of Audi design, the 'greenhouse' accounts for one-third of the height, while the
sheet metal makes up the remaining two-thirds.
Powerfully flared mudguards hint at the power of the engine. Two prominently elaborated lines
accentuate the flank: the undercut tornado line beneath the window edge and the dynamic line above
the sills. The outside mirrors, made of aluminium and CFRP, are perched on the top shoulder, just
like on a sports car. The door handles with their brushed-aluminium clasps are recessed flush with
the door. When the driver touches them, they power-extend.
The intelligent interplay between surfaces and lines also defines the tail end of the A3 concept.
The broad, flat tail lights are sculptured and culminate in a point on the inside, and the tailgate
bears an elegant spoiler edge. The rear apron includes a diffuser insert of CFRP and metal, which
in turn surrounds the two large tailpipes for the exhaust system.
Ultra-modern components, design methods and joining techniques keep the body weight low. One
example of this are the custom tailored blanks (panels of various thicknesses) in the floor area.
The doors, engine bonnet and tailgate are made of aluminium. The extra stiff body provides the
basis for the sedan’s precise handling, excellent vibrational comfort and low weight – the Audi A3
concept tips the scales at just 1,540 kilogrammes (3,395.12 lb).
The interior of the show car is generously proportioned. The long wheelbase measuring 2.63
metres (8.63 ft) – a best-in-class figure in the premium compact segment – gives rear passengers
on the two individual seats a pleasing amount of knee room. The front sport seats with prominent
side bolsters are slim and elegant.
The cabin also gives an impression of lightness and airiness. The horizontal lines emphasise
its design. The instrument panel draws the driver in – typical of Audi. Defined in three
dimensions, the large trim strip is made of solid aluminium and includes control functions. The
high-quality sound system in the doors and on the rear shelf has aluminium trim panels. When the
audio system is turned on, they extend a few millimetres, thus orchestrating a visual
accompaniment to the system’s excellent sound.
On the centre console four large, round air vents echoing a jet’s design catch the eye. The air
flow is adjusted by pulling and pushing on the centre axis of the vents. The control knobs for the
automatic air conditioning system are located in the lower section of the center console on a
boldly protruding dedicated control panel. Visually, they are reminiscent of airplane
Located behind the compact, flat-bottomed, three-spoke multifunction steering wheel are two
analogue dial instruments with black dials and red needles, complemented by additional
kidney-shaped displays. Engraved rims made of brushed aluminium underscore their classy look. In
between the two large round dials is the large, eight-inch display for the driver information
system. The display is user-programmable – the driver can select the content to be displayed from
an extensive menu.
The control panel for the MMI multimedia system is located on the centre tunnel console. The
surface of its large rotary push-button includes the touch pad, MMI touch. This new solution,
which makes the already exemplary operation even more intuitive, will soon be introduced in
series production at Audi. The ultra-thin MMI monitor power-extends out of the instrument panel,
another feature taken from the full-size car class.
In terms of infotainment, the Audi A3 concept shows why the brand is leading the competition.
A UMTS model provides full access to the Internet, allowing the car to retrieve convenient
services from "Google". Thanks to the WLAN hotspot, passengers can surf and send e-mail to their
hearts’ content. Holders for iPads are installed on the back of the front seat backrests.
A classic notchback sedan, the Audi A3 concept boasts a large luggage compartment with a
volume of 410 litres (14.48 cubic ft) and a low loading lip.
The A3 concept has a five-cylinder engine under the bonnet that combines the Audi technologies
of turbocharging and FSI petrol direction injection. It develops a hefty 300 kW (408 hp) from a
displacement of 2.5 litres. Its peak torque of 500 Nm (368.78 lb-ft) is available over a broad
rev range between 1,600 and 5,300 rpm.
The five-cylinder powerplant unleashes a rousing soundscape – its typical sound pattern calls
to mind the Audi sound of the 1980s and the huge motor sport successes of that period. Its
performance is a complete homage to tradition: The A3 concept catapults from stop to 100 km/h
(62.14 mph) in 4.1 seconds, and its electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h (155.34 mph)
is merely the official figure.
In terms of fuel consumption, the four-seater requires just 9.1 litres of fuel per 100 km
and emits 212 grammes CO2 per km. A regulated oil pump, the intelligent Audi thermo-management
system and a energy recovery system – technologies from the brand’s modular efficiency platform
– all contribute to this high efficiency.
A compact seven-speed S tronic serves as the transmission. It comprises two transmission
structures, which are operated by two clutches. Gears are alternately shifted by the two clutches
– at lightning speed, comfortably, and without any perceptible interruption of traction.
The driver can operate the seven-speed S tronic in one automatic mode and one manual mode,
using the paddles on the steering wheel to shift gears manually. Elegant touch control buttons on
the centre tunnel console are used to select drive positions R, N and D. These are backlit in red
when it gets dark. Drive position P is automatically engaged when the electric parking brake is
applied. The launch control system manages the sprint from a dead stop, furnishing explosive turbo
power with minimal tyre slip.
Power is effortlessly transmitted to the road via quattro permanent all-wheel drive. Its
centrepiece is an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch at the end of the propeller shaft.
When slip occurs at one of the axles, the clutch redirects the majority of the torque input to the
wheels with the better grip.
Derived from the current RS 3 Sportback, the chassis of the Audi A3 concept is fully capable of
handling the power from the drive system at all times. The four-seater masters any type of curve
with speed, stability and composure, turning spontaneously into corners going in and providing
superior traction going out. Its self-steering response remains essentially neutral all the way up
to the lofty handling limits.
The front suspension – a McPherson construction with a separate axle support – has a track
measuring a full 1,572 millimetres (61.89 in). To a large extent, its components are made of
aluminium. The rack-and-pinion steering is extremely efficient because its electromechanical drive
system requires no energy when driving straight ahead.
The four-link rear suspension with its 1,542-millimetre (60.71-in) track is likewise fixed to a
subframe. Its control arms made of high-strength steel enable the suspension to absorb longitudinal
and lateral forces separately. The shock absorbers and coil springs are mounted separately from
The Audi drive select dynamic handling system gives the driver five modes from which to select
the engine characteristics, power steering and the seven-speed S tronic. The modes are comfort,
auto, dynamic, individual and efficiency, the last of which is designed for maximum economy.
The imposing light-alloy rims measure 20 inches in diameter. In five twin-spoke design, they are
made of CFRP and aluminium. The slender, recessed rims optimise ventilation. The tyre format is
245/30 at the front and rear. The front brake discs are gripped by four-piston callipers. The ESP
stabilisation system has a Sport mode and can be completely deactivated. The parking brake is
A production version of this Audi concept is anticipated sooner rather than later.