Opinion: Audi prices the A3 exactly with the Mercedes CLA, does this matter?

Audi has Mercedes in their cross hairs, or at least they have those cross shopping in their cross hairs. It’s certainly a very German thing to do, but part of this doesn’t totally make sense. Most car buyers try to fool themselves into rationalizing their purchase by splitting hairs regarding financing options, fuel economy, pricing, and standard equipment; the end result typically involves the purchase of the car that one secretly wanted anyway. Will the price really tip the scales in the favor of Audi over Mercedes or vice versa? No, Audi is merely making a romantic statement of value; only cubicle jockeys interested in comparing all standard features and optional features will likely base their purchase decisions on the exact base price.

In any case, $29,900 will now get you either a 2-wheel-drive Mercedes or a 2-wheel-drive Audi; the former of which is a bit odd, and in this case, slower and perhaps less attractive. The Mercedes comes with 208 bhp as standard from the smaller of the two available engines, while the Audi comes with 170 bhp from the deep catalogue of available engines. If we split subjective hairs futher, we find that while the Merc is tasteful, the available illuminated star option for the front grille is not. When introducing the A3, Audi discusses standard bi-xenon headlamps, quattro being fitted as standard on the 2 liter model, and the multifunction, leather wrapped steering wheel. Mercedes pushes the envelope about upgraded rims and a rear spoiler. Are these two companies really fighting for the same, undecided voter? Let’s not get into the whole issue of the fact that this is $900 less than an A4.

If you would like to read more about Audi’s pricing, check out the press release after the jump.

By: Sawyer Sutton

Audi introduces the technologically advanced 2015 Audi A3 and S3 sedans, A3 Cabriolet and A3 Sportback e-tron® PHEV
• This new family of cars from Audi brings a new level of standard features, craftsmanship and attention to detail to the fast growing entry premium market
• The new A3 line-up from Audi will be rolled out over the next 18 months
• First-ever 4G LTE connectivity introduced with the next generation Audi connect® system in the all-new A3

Audi of America officially announced plans today for the arrival of an entirely new family of premium compact cars, including three body styles, five new unique engines and seven variants.

This all-new Audi A3 lineup begins with the A3 sedan, which goes on sale in the spring of 2014. The A3 sedan plays a pivotal role in the soon to be expanding Audi A3 family and will be priced from a base MSRP of $29,900. It will be joined later in the fall of 2014 by the Audi A3 Cabriolet, A3 TDI clean diesel sedan, the high-performance S3 sedan and in early 2015, the A3 Sportback e-tron® gasoline electric plug-in hybrid (PHEV).

“We aren’t just bringing one new car to market, we’re launching an entire new family of cars that will add to our momentum in the U.S. marketplace,” said Scott Keogh, President, Audi of America. “This A3 line-up redefines the standards of the entry premium market in terms of technology, craftsmanship and performance.”

The A3 sedan will bring to the entry premium market new innovative technologies and the detailed craftsmanship found in larger flagship Audi sedans.

The A3 family will offer all-new versatile powertrains for a wide variety of entry-luxury customer tastes including a 1.8 TFSI®, 2.0 TFSI®, 2.0 TDI® clean diesel, 1.4 TFSI PHEV and a high-output 2.0 TFSI® in the S3. These vehicles will come standard with many premium features, even the base model of the all-new Audi A3 will come equipped with standard features that include xenon plus front lighting with Audi signature LED DRLs and taillights, Bluetooth® technology, leather seating surfaces, Audi pre sense® basic and a panoramic glass sunroof.

Audi of America also confirmed today that it will be adding to the all-new A3 family by offering the A3 Sportback with a gasoline electric plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model for the first time in the U.S. market. Audi first revealed the A3 Sportback e-tron at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. This vehicle demonstrates the production intent of e-tron using parallel plug-in hybrid technology, a practical first step towards electrified driving which helps mitigate the range anxiety concerns associated with most full battery electric vehicles.

The Audi A family breaks the boundaries and raises the bar as to what is expected out of entry-level luxury vehicles. The A3 marks the first time that an A-segment vehicle will offer MMI® technology, Audi drive select, 4G LTE connectivity and Bang & Olufsen® audio.

In addition to the standard technologies, the Audi A3 line-up will feature new, segment first technologies. One key example is the implementation of 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.

The A3 model line will offer impressive power and groundbreaking efficiency with five different engine variants including the 170 horsepower 1.8 TFSI®, 220 horsepower 2.0 TFSI, 150 horsepower 2.0 TDI® clean diesel, and an impressive 290* horsepower in the 2.0 TFSI powered S3. The 1.4 TFSI gasoline engine powering the parallel hybrid A3 sportback e-tron features a combined output of 201 hp and 258 lb ft of torque when the 100 hp e-motor is also engaged.

All engines are mated to the standard 6-speed S tronic® transmission which provides the driver immense shifting flexibility and driving pleasure with smooth, dynamic acceleration and virtually no interruption to the power flow.

The A3 line-up for the first time will now come with an available Audi drive select system. Audi drive select allows the driver to adjust throttle response, shift points, and the electromechanical steering effort. Similar to other Audi models, Audi drive select has four settings that include Auto, Dynamic, Comfort and Individual.

The new platform allows the front wheels to move forward by roughly 1.5 inches (compared to the previous generation A3) to provide well-balanced proportions, supplemented by optimized interior space utilization, and an improved crash structure.

The front suspension is a MacPherson strut design with A-arms and aluminum pivot bearings. It is joined to an aluminum subframe. The electromechanically assisted steering system operates sensitively and efficiently together with various assistance systems, while reducing mechanical drag for greater efficiency. In the four-link rear suspension for the gasoline models, which utilizes a steel crossmember, the springs and shock absorbers are mounted separately.

The electronic stability control (ESC) also includes an electronic differential lock. When driving through curves, it can brake the inside front wheel very slightly to help minimize understeer and improve traction.

The exterior of the A3 sedan has been completely redesigned and specifically tailored to meet the sedan preferences of the American market. The Audi A3 stretches 175.5 inches in length and has a 103.4 inch wheelbase. Combined with its 70 inch width and 55.7 inch height, its proportions are compact but very sporty and nearly resemble the original Audi A4 from 1994.

The signature Singleframe® grille and available full-LED headlights, another first for the A-segment, are some of the notable design changes included in the all-new Audi A3 sedan.

The A3 Cabriolet will be offered for the first time in the U.S. next year and will come with a soft cloth top that is stretched over a lightweight kinematic mechanism made of magnesium-steel, and will complement the car’s design perfectly.
At the press of a button, the top opens or closes electro-hydraulically in less than 18 seconds, even while driving up to 31 mph. In the opened state, the top – folded into three layers – rests in a tray that hardly affects luggage capacity, which is 10.14 cubic ft.

A fully automatic acoustic top with a glass rear window and thick inner foam layer is standard. An active rollover protection system helps protect the occupants in case of a rollover accident. It consists of two spring-loaded plates that are recessed into the body. In case of a rollover or a frontal collision, magnetic actuators open the mechanical lock. Within just a few milliseconds, the plates spring upward in order to help protect occupants, together with the windshield frame.

The S3 adds specific details that underscore the high-performance character of the Audi S3 Sedan. The S-specific Singleframe grille has aluminum-look, double horizontal bars. A chrome frame surrounds the grille; the insert is finished in matte platinum gray. Aluminum-look double ribs and honeycomb inserts fill the air inlets in the bumper, which are framed with strongly flared edges. Audi offers optional LED headlights for excellent illumination of the road and an unmistakable look.

Alu-optic exterior mirror housings and the sill strips catch the eye on the flanks of the four-door sedan. The rear bumper has been redesigned, and a subtle spoiler lip provides an aesthetic design feature at the top of the trunk lid. The rear lights predominantly employ LED technology. The platinum gray diffuser has an aluminum-look double bar and four ribs. It encloses the exhaust system’s four oval tailpipes with their chrome tips. Among the twelve paint finishes are the exclusive Panther black and Sepang blue. S3 badges adorn the rear and the front.

The athletic exterior of the A3 extends inside, where Audi maintains its leading role in automotive interior design and craftsmanship. The defining element is the “wraparound” dash design, which incorporates an innovative three-dimensional inlay concept surrounding the driver and front passenger. The available LED interior lighting package highlights the immense craftsmanship and attention to detail that goes into every Audi A3 interior.

This is accomplished by bathing the interior in a cool white LED light surrounding the center console, door panels, cupholders, and even the Bang & Olufsen Sound System when so equipped.

The A3 delivers the same prestige and high-quality materials found in Audi’s flagship sedan, the A8. The MMI operating system has an electronically extending screen, its terminal housed in the console of the center dashboard. It features a 7-inch high resolution display screen with magnesium backing that is less than ½ inch thick. To further enhance the driving experience, the new MMI controls are conveniently positioned behind the gear shift. They now offer a touch pad incorporated into the rotary MMI control wheel, which offers an intuitively and simple operation typical of the brand with the four rings. Now with the optional 705 watt 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen Sound System, all occupants in the A3 can enjoy the best in acoustics.

The S3 adds further character to the interior by offering instrument dials that are in an S-specific dark gray metallic finish; the numbers and needles are white. The tachometer features a three-dimensional S3 logo and a boost pressure indicator. The power-retractable monitor powers up to display a special S3 screen.

A leather-covered, multifunction sport steering wheel with the rim flattened at the bottom and S3 badging, standard shift paddles with aluminum details are also standard on the S3 sedan. Other S-specific features are the pedals and footrest of brushed stainless steel as well as the red rings on the start-stop button and on the specially designed gear selector lever. The aluminum door sill trims with S3 badging round out the high-quality and exclusive package. The front sport seats help provide optimum hold and support. The seat cushions can be extended, and S3 logos are embossed in the backrests.

Driver Assistance
The Audi A3 line-up will offer several advanced technology features which are new to the entry luxury segment, including the standard Audi pre sense basic system which helps detect when an emergency maneuver is being made and prepares the vehicle and its occupant restraint systems in advance of a possible collision. The Audi A3 also offers an optional advanced technology package, which includes Audi active lane assist, and adaptive cruise control with stop and go.

Audi connect®
The modular infotainment platform in the Audi A3 line-up also brings several upgrades to the industry leading Audi connect® service.

Audi’s connected vehicle strategy targets features and services that enhance the experience for Audi drivers and their passengers by providing the benefits of access to information and content, when needed, through interfaces designed for the in-vehicle environment.

The new A3 family will feature the most advanced version of Audi connect including read aloud Facebook® and Twitter® alerts, access to more than 7,000 Internet broadcast stations, RSS news feeds and more. The MMI navigation plus uses LTE to deliver the tailored services of Audi connect to the driver – from navigation with Google Earth and Google Street View to Audi and online traffic information. There are over a dozen Audi connect services, including a text-to-speech function for e-mail and a dictation function for text messages (SMS). And the range of services is expanding rapidly. An accompanying mobile app will allow advanced functionality between the MMI system and smartphones.

Using the existing Wi-Fi connectivity for up to 8 devices, passengers will be able to view high-definition videos and make video conference calls from the vehicle. Adding to the existing Google Earth™ 3D satellite imagery and intelligent POI search with Google Voice™ Local Search, the Audi A3 introduces a new Picture Navigation service. Here the driver can save photos of destinations, which are linked to geo-navigation data (GPS), in the “photo box” of MMI Navigation plus. These may be the driver’s own photos or scenes from Google Maps Street View. Photos can be imported via an SD card or a myAudi account.

A new app integration interface over Wi-Fi for music streaming and other connected device apps, voice-controlled social media features, and a completely redesigned user MMI interface allows drivers and passengers to continue to enjoy a connected lifestyle while in the vehicle without handling devices.

To view running footage of these vehicles please visit:
2015 Audi A3 Sedan: http://youtu.be/hxTrcLbJERo
2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet: http://youtu.be/Amvgw3k8whM
2015 Audi S3 Sedan: http://youtu.be/5aCjC7kMAC4

Consumers who want to keep up to date on future Audi A3 announcements can visit http://www.audiusa.com/models/audi-a3/subscription. They can sign up to keep up to date on all the latest news with the Audi A3 line-up.

Sawyer Sutton

Sawyer Sutton is a long-time Vermonter and lover of cars, big machinery, and photography. These are his words on cars as Senior Editor of egmCarTech.

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