Redesigned 2021 Audi A3 Sedan Gets Big-Boy Interior, Manual Transmission
Don't call it the "lil guy" anymore.
Now that electric vehicles outsell cars with manual transmissions, Audi could be forgiven for putting all its eggs in an E-Tron basket and scrapping the three-pedal configuration for good. Thankfully, Audi's parent company Volkswagen says it'll keep producing manual cars as long as people buy them, and with the redesigned 2021 Audi A3 sedan, it's putting its money where its mouth is by offering six-speed transmissions with every engine option.
Every powertrain offered in the longer, wider and taller 2021 A3 will be available with a six-speed shift-your-own, from the 108-horsepower 1.0-liter model at the entry-level to the 148-horsepower 1.5-liter gasoline engine. A diesel will be offered in Europe only. If you're looking for the novel 48-volt, mild-hybrid system capable of short boosts of 36.9 pound-feet of torque, you'll have to opt for the automatic transmission models.
No matter which powertrain you pick, you won't find the A3's handling any less responsive, thanks to optional sport suspension complete with adaptive damping. Fiddling with its different modes alters the shock stiffness to optimize agility, economy, or comfort and adjusts the steering and pedal response accordingly. The new A3 gains almost an extra inch of headroom over the outgoing model via a lower driving position and a taller roofline. Despite larger external dimensions than the 2020 model, the 2021 A3 sedan's drag coefficient shrinks markedly from 0.29 to 0.25, due in part to active cooling ducts in the grille and brakes.
Clever 21st-century engineering is everywhere in the A3's interior, with the focal point being a 10.1-inch infotainment screen. It serves as the interface between occupants and the Volkswagen Group's full suite of connected car and safety technologies, such as adaptive cruise and frontal crash prevention. The cabin now resembles the minmalist and cutting-edge design initially found in the flagship A8 sedan—as well as the redesigned Q7 SUV. An LTE-connected wifi hotspot and compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto alike make the A3 as modern as anything on the market, and more tech treats will arrive across the 2021 A3's rollout model year, which will include the addition of Amazon Alexa.
The 2021 Audi A3 sedan's stern little face will be seen around European dealers as soon as this summer, though it won't arrive in American showrooms until the calendar year 2021. Even then, Audi tells us the turbodiesel powertrain will not be offered, meaning it's gonna be gas or nothing for American buyers, though we won't be missing out on much if gas prices stay as low as they are today.
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