Audi A3 Limousine

This is a car whose arrival we saw from a mile away. Previewed twice in 2011 (here and here) and again last week, the Audi A3 Sedan has finally broken cover ahead of the New York Motor Show before being given its public debut in Shanghai next month.

What came as a surprise is the joint unveiling of the S3 Sedan alongside the standard models. Now, Audi has never been shy of stretching out its car launches to multiple motor shows: the third-generation A3 was first shown in three-door form at Geneva last year, followed by the A3 Sportback and S3 in Paris six month later, while we had to wait till this year to see the S3 Sportback.

Offered in a booted form for the first time, the A3 Sedan follows the four-door coupe formula rather than a traditional three-box sedan. The boot is kept short, with the cabin glasshouse stretched backwards to enhance the visual effect. The wheel arches have been widened too, making it appear lower to the ground and more planted.

Audi A3 Limousine

It is 150 mm longer, 11 mm wider but 9 mm lower than the A3 Sportback, with a long 2640 mm wheelbase and short overhangs. The designers are particularly proud of the “tornado line” element across the car, a light-refracting edge that hides the visual bulk of the car’s rear end. It hides its hatchback roots rather well, despite having a high boot line.

The front end of the car gets a unique bumper with wider slats and more horizontal elements. Full LED headlights are an option. Round the back, the bootlid acts as a rear spoiler, whole the tapered rear lamps are designed to make the A3 Sedan appear lower and more athletic. It sits on the latest MQB platform, and with the smallest engine fitted (1.4 TFSI), weights just 1,250 kg.

Other than updated interior graphics, the dashboard is carried over whole from its hatchback siblings. The seating accommodation is identical to that of the five-door Sportback, but the Sedan has a bigger cargo area with the seats up.

Audi S3 Limousine

Three engine choices are available from the get go: 1.4 TFSI with COD (cylinder on demand) making 140 hp/250 Nm, 1.8 TFSI with 180 hp and 250Nm, plus a 150 hp/320Nm 2.0 TDI, all mated to either a six-speed manual or dual-clutch S-tronic transmission. 0-100 km/h figure for each model is 8.4, 7.3 and 8.7 seconds respectively.

The S3 Sedan on the other hand uses the same 2.0 TFSI engine with 300 hp and 380 Nm found in other S3 models with a quattro all-wheel drive system. With the optional S-tronic ‘box it dips below five seconds for the 0-100 km/h sprint. It takes 0.4 seconds longer (5.3 seconds) with a manual transmission. Top speed, as usual, is limited to 250 km/h.

Mechanical differentiators include 25 mm lower ride height with sports suspension, beefier brakes and variable-ratio electric power steering. Visually, the top model is distinguished by modifications to the bumpers, the singleframe grille, air intakes, side sills and rear spoiler. S-model hallmark such as the four tailpipes and silver exterior mirror housings are present too.

GALLERY: Audi A3 Sedan

GALLERY: Audi S3 Sedan