The Audi A3 TDI is all new for 2014 and is the only relatively high mpg Audi other than the Q7 TDI. This guide compares the new Audi A3 to the last generation car, gives information you won't find in the sales brochure, and explains some of the features of the car. If you join our Audi TDI forum, there are plenty of real world TDI owners who can also give some useful answers. This article is regularly updated as new information comes out so please check back for updates! NOTE: some of this early information is based off the European spec car. The final North American spec car may vary slightly.
While the Audi A3 TDI was previously only available in 4 door hatchback in North America (NA), it's now sedan only here. This has been confirmed by Audi of America's CEO. It's also the first VW-Audi product to use the new modular MBQ chassis. While the new chassis makes the car easier and cheaper to build, it adds some features and actually loses some weight, a rarity for new cars. The overall size of the car is about the same as Audi's first major success, the B5 chassis A4. The hatchback style is continued for Europe and Rest of World (ROW) markets.
This is one of the most common questions: yes but possibly not in the NA market. There are much greater configurations in ROW and in the past, the A3 TDI has been only FWD. Due to emissions, my best guess is that it will continue to be only FWD with the TDI engine. It's almost impossible to import recent European spec cars into the US or Canada so don't bother asking. While Audi does European delivery where you pick the car up yourself, those are all US spec cars.
In any case, if you've never driven a modern car with stability and traction control and winter tires, it will greatly outperform an AWD car on all season tires in snow. Tires are a more important factor than AWD in snow traction, especially in braking where AWD has no advantage.
The new chassis makes the new A3 the most advanced small car of any current VW-Audi. The mk7 Golf will get the new chassis next year, followed by the 2015 Audi A4 which is also expected to come with a TDI option in North America and also be built off the MBQ. Even though the face of the new A3 might bear a resemblance, they changed so much on the 2014 Audi A3 vs. last year's model that it's a totally different car. The handling, features, performance, and fuel economy are all different. If you're looking at both generations, consider them totally different cars when shopping. For details on the 2010-2013 Audi A3 TDI, see the buying guide for that model here.
There are some nice upgrades on the new chassis other than weight loss: the car now has aluminum fenders and hood,
MMI interface: This is all new to the A3. This integrated scroll knob controls the radio, climate control, navigation, and phone functions. It makes operating car systems easier and faster. If you get the navigation plus the top of the control knob is also a touchpad for inputting letters and numbers. Click to enlarge the thumbnails; the screen picture is animated with some different views. The MMI screen is only 11mm (.43" thick) and retracts when not in use. Basic MMI uses a 5.8" measured diagonally screen without navigation function. You can pay for Audi to enable navigation function off an SD card later. If you get nav plus it comes with navigation and it upgrades the MMI with a high resolution (800x480 pixels) 7" screen with a magnesium cover. It also adds a 60 GB HDD for storing music and maps.
Of note is the modular infotainment board which handles the nav, phone, and internet functions. Because tech develops faster than the lifespan of a car, the multimedia extension board is designed to be removable from the radio control unit for future upgrades.
Phone box and WLAN hotspot: the space under the center armrest just isn't just a place to hold the phone - this optional feature uses a planar antenna to boost the mobile phone reception using the external antenna. The car can also function as a WLAN hotspot for up to 8 devices. If you subscribe to Audi connect, it enables functions like internet radio, google street view, google earth, Audi traffic info. Audi traffic actually works off collecting anonymized centralized data from other connected Audi to analyze traffic flow (only works in Europe so far). Audi music stream is a smartphone app that is accessed through the MMI to internet radio stations. Another cool feature of Audi connect is the ability to plan and upload a route on your home computer to Audi.com and have it download to your GPS. You get 6 months Audi connect free and then it's about $25-30/month depending if you get a 24 month subscription or pay monthly.
Bang and Olufsen: The optional premium radio will be a 705W Bang and Olufsen w/12 channels, 14 speakers, and 5.1 Sound. This has usually been the option above the Bose and in addition to the highline trim level.
Full LED headlights or HID xenon headlights: LED headlights may be optional in NA due to cost and will be a first in any small car. All cars will have LED taillights. Below is an animated thumbnail of the optional LED headlights and a thumbnail of the regular HID xenon headlights, click to enlarge. The HID xenon headlights will probably be optional above regular headlightss. These turn into corners at mid speeds and are self leveling.
Full sized color MFD and MFSW: This multifunction display (MFD) shows information like phone, radio, trip computer, and car settings. Past MFD were controlled by the MFSW, the multifunction steering wheel buttons. Since the new A3 is the first A3 to have a MMI interface, it's possible the MFD could also be controlled by both the MMI and MFSW..
Audi drive select: This lets you tweak steering, transmission, and accelerator pedal characteristics and includes adaptive shock absorbers.
Keyless entry and engine start: This lets you open the doors and start the engine if the key fob is within a few feet of the car. This means you never have to touch the key to get in, start the car, and lock the doors when leaving.
Multi plate electronic limited slip differential: The new name for this LSD is VAQ. The main difference vs. older systems that only used the ABS system to slow the inside wheel is that it's a real electronic differential lock with multi-plate couplers.
Sport suspension: The sport suspension or electromagnetically adjustable shock absorber options lower the car .59".
S-line package: This lowers the car .98", adds s-line wheels, s-line seats, interior trim, and exterior body trim. The S-line body kit is shown in some of the cars shown below.
The biggest mechanical change on the Audi A3 is the new EA288 TDI engine series first found on the A3 TDI. Long story short, the new engine series has less parasitic losses and greater performance. It also features separate coolant circuits for the engine head and heater core vs. the engine block. This means faster engine warm up, better fuel economy, about 45% reduced emissions in the Euro-6 version, and faster cabin warm up. Faster engine warm up results in reduced emissions because most emissions are produced before the catalysts have time to warm up and before the engine tightens up.
The Euro spec 2.0L engine is rated at 150 hp and 238 lb-ft of torque. The US spec engine should be similar.
Here are the early pictures of the Audi A3. These are the 3 door ROW car, not the NA market sedan. Some have the S-line body kit and radar for the adaptive cruise control (the bulb in the lower-center grille).
Have any more questions about the 2014 Audi A3 TDI? Please post your question in the Audi A3 TDI forum.