The fourth generation Audi A3 Sportback will break cover at the forthcoming Geneva motor show in early March, and according to Audi, it promises to offer the ‘highest level’ of driving dynamics courtesy of the latest advancements in the quattro all-wheel drive system, electronic stability control, steering and damping.
New on the quattro system for a transversal engine layout is the location of the electrohydraulic clutch at the end of the prop shaft, or in front of the rear differential. Audi says that this aids axle load distribution. Said AWD system is also able to active apportion just the right amount torque to the rear wheels (even up to 100%) when required, but would remain largely front-wheel driven in ‘normal conditions’ to maximise fuel efficiency.
Electronic stabilisation control is usually called upon to keep cars and drivers from falling off the road, but the safety feature can also be used to sharpen up handling. Audi is introducing wheel-selective torque control in the new A3 which works through the application of braking on the inside wheels when tackling a curve at high speed, this has the effect of helping the car turn into a corner, making the car more agile as well.
While on the topic of cornering, the soon-to-revealed new A3 also gets a new steering rack which Audi dubs as electromechanical progressive steering. You probably can guess the intention here – to lower the effort required to turn the wheel at slower speeds (especially in town) but to offer a meatier, ‘sportier’ feel at high speeds, and this is achieved by varying the ratios which the rack and pinion steering system operates on and also the electrical assistance required.
Central to the improved dynamics of the new A3 would also involve new dampers of the adaptive type, as well as sensors measuring movement of the body and wheels. The electromagnetic dampers can react within milliseconds to stiffen or soften the damping. Of course, the driver can also select between ‘comfort’, ‘auto’ and ‘dynamic’ damping modes under Audi’s Drive Select.
No specific info yet on the available powertrains, but expect some hardware already revealed on the Mk8 Volkswagen Golf to be available on the A3 as both utilise the same upgraded MQB platform.