Audi won’t have an official presence at this week’s 2013 New York International Auto Show, but that hasn’t stopped the company from making big news for the U.S. market.
The automaker announced Tuesday evening that the all-new 2015 A3 and S3 sedans would be coming to U.S. shores in early 2014. The compact Audis will come standard in front-wheel-drive, with a more upmarket model coming with the company’s optional quattro all-wheel-drive system.
The move to a sedan layout is a big change for the A3 in the U.S. market, where previously the car had been sold only as a hatchback. Audi says that five-door body style will continue to be offered as the A3 Sportback e-tron, a plug-in hybrid that will probably have a total output of 204 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.
The gas-powered A3 sedans will be available with one of four engine choices.
The base model will have a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine making 170 horsepower. Two versions of a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine will be available, one in the A3 and a more powerful version in the performance-oriented S3 sedan. Power for both of these engines hasn’t been released.
Finally, Audi will offer a diesel engine in the A3. This turbocharged 2.0-liter engine will be capable of 150 horsepower.
All versions of the A3 and S3 will come with Audi’s S tronic gearbox, a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. The cars will come with Audi Drive Select, a feature that allows drivers to choose between one of three predetermined settings for the throttle, shift points and steering effort. A fourth customizable setting is also included.
When the A3 goes on sale in early 2014, it will take direct aim at Mercedes-Benz’s all-new CLA sedan. The pair mark an emerging front-wheel-drive trend among German automakers, who have traditionally offered to U.S. customers only all-wheel-drive or rear-wheel-drive cars.
This new segment will have lower prices than the larger Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class sedans, which the automakers hope will help pull in younger buyers to the respective brands.
Though the A3 made an unofficial appearance in New York on Tuesday, Audi communications manager Mark Dahncke said Audi would officially debut the car at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show on April 20.
"China and the U.S. will be the lion’s share in terms of volume," Dahncke said from New York.
Audi didn’t disclose pricing on any version of the A3, but with Mercedes' CLA250 starting around $30,000, don’t expect the Audi to deviate too far from that number.
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