Munich – The Audi A3, a classy hatchback based on the Volkswagen Golf platform, came into the world in 1996. It went through a third-generation reboot for the 2012 model year, and in 2013, a sedan version was introduced at the New York Auto Show, primarily for the hatch-averse American market. For 2017, this premium compact gets a mid-cycle makeover, adopting some visual cues and new tech found in the marque’s fresher offerings.
The 2017 models arrive in Canada late September of this year and continue as the A3 Sedan, S3 Sedan and A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid five-door hatchback.
Visually, you’ll spot the 2017 A3 by its more angular grill, slimmer standard Xenon (optional LED) headlights and a more aggressive lower fascia. New LED taillights spruce up the back. Nothing earth-shattering here, but the tweaks bring the A3 in line with newer Audis. A selection of new colours and redesigned standard wheels round out the cosmetic changes.
The interior carries forward with its elegant and uncluttered look. Initially, the A3’s cabin might seem a bit plain, but it is a premium effort with every surface vetted for scrutiny. On start-up the 5.8-inch MMI screen glides up from a slot in the dash. For 2017, this MMI interface gets a new menu system that is similar to that of … you guessed it, a smartphone. Additionally, handwriting detection comes courtesy of the upper surface of the central control knob. The control knobs and switches now have white backlighting, and a USB port is now standard.
The big news for the 2017 A3 is the inclusion of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit in the Technik trim levels that are available on all but the entry-level front-drive model. This 12.3-inch digital TFT display replaces the traditional central gauge cluster, and offers several configurations – the most impressive being the crystal-clear navigation display with a small speedo and tachometer living in the lower corners.
Audi engineers have overhauled the 2017 A3’s complete tire lineup with an eye on increased efficiency.
The entry-level front-wheel-drive A3, which rolls on 17-inch alloys, gets a new drivetrain for 2017. Previously powered by a 170 hp 1.8L turbo four-cylinder, the 2017 2.0 TSFI FWD model runs with a completely new 2.0L turbo four sporting an innovative combustion process that promises greater fuel efficiency. It makes 186 horsepower and a healthy 236 lb-ft of torque, and powers the front wheels through a new seven-speed twin-clutch S tronic gearbox. Auto-start/stop is standard issue, and for those wondering, no manual transmission is offered on any model A3.
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Once into the quattro all-wheel-drive models, the drivetrains carry forward from 2016. As such, the 2017 A3 2.0 TSFI quattro continues with its 220 hp, 258 lb-ft four connected to a six-speed dual-clutch S tronic. The only change for 2017 is the addition of fuel-saving auto-start/stop. A Technology Package adds active lane assist, adaptive cruise with stop-and-go, and forward collision mitigation.