Audi will be celebrating the world premiere of the new A3 Sportback at the Geneva Motor Show. Prior to this, the premium manufacturer is sending the fourth generation of its success model to take a very special test: On São Miguel Island in the Azores archipelago, journalists will test the compact sports car and experience the highest level of driving dynamics on challenging routes.
The fourth generation of the A3 will present itself in its most emotive form in the pristine landscape of São Miguel, where the spectacular Azores Rallye is held. The all-wheel drive in the compact model is the latest stage in the evolution of a successful technology. An electro-hydraulic multi‑plate clutch that is managed by a precisely tuned all-wheel software forms its core. Aside from providing the A3 with a maximum level of stability, grip, and driving pleasure, it is also extremely efficient. In interaction with the adaptive suspension and the progressive steering, this results in a sporty performance that impresses in tight winding roads and varied mountain and valley stretches in particular.
Audi tailored the electronic torque distribution control specifically to suit the new A3 and integrated it in the Audi drive select dynamic handling system. It takes the data of the suspension sensors into account and detects not only the driving condition and road properties but also the driving style.
The all-wheel drive distributes the torque with full variability between the front and rear axles. During normal driving operation, the majority of the engine’s power is transmitted to the front wheels. When driving off or when the front axle has little traction, the clutch diverts the torque at lightning speed.
The wheel-selective torque control, a software function of the Electronic Stabilisation Control (ESC), is the icing on the cake when it comes to sporty characteristics. When the new Audi A3 drives through a curve at high speed, the program applies the brakes slightly to the two wheels on the inside of the curve. The difference in drive forces on both axles turns the car into the bend, allowing it to follow the steering angle precisely. This makes the handling even more agile, fluid, and safe.
The perceived response of the quattro drive is also changed in the three functional modes of the ESC. This allows the traction and driving stability to be adapted at the driver’s request. By selecting Sport Mode, the driver can drift on surfaces with a low coefficient of friction, such as snow, in a controlled, safe manner.
On curvy roads, the progressive steering increases the driving dynamics, allowing the A3 to offer an even sportier driving style. The steering wheel has to be turned just 2.5 times to get from end stop to end stop. The power assistance is in perfect harmony with this character and adapts to the driving speed. At low speeds, it is higher in order to enable easier manoeuvrability; as the speed increases, the power assistance is decreased continuously. This allows the driver to experience a calm, full steering feel even when driving at high speed on the motorway.
Comfortably soft or sporty and taut? Both are possible with the suspension with adaptive damper control. Three damper characteristics ensure that the driver can experience the spread of the driving characteristics and enjoy particularly agile handling.
The Audi drive select system is the interface between the regulated suspension and drive systems and the driver. It can be switched between five modes – comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency, and individual – via a physical button located near the gearshift or selector lever. If the driver selects the “individual” setting, they can freely specify their personal preferences to a great extent.
In every A3 model, Audi drive select varies the characteristics of the throttle response and steering assist. Depending on the equipment, the system also incorporates the S tronic, the quattro drive, and the suspension with damper control. It also influences comfort and safety systems such as the automatic air conditioning, matrix LED headlights, seat belt tensioner, and adaptive cruise control.