Audi has announced its next A3 and S3, set to arrive in dealerships in the first quarter of 2014 as 2015 models. Many of the upgrades over the present A3 and S3 are tech-related.
Take, for example, the automaker’s plans to add a PHEV version of the A3 Sportback to the lineup. Dubbed the A3 e-tron, the model was shown in concept form at this year’s Geneva Auto Show. The model should travel roughly 31 miles in pure EV mode, or can put up respectable performance numbers– how’s a 7.6-second 0-62 MPH run and a top speed of 138 MPH sound?– in traditional hybrid mode while returning 188 MPG according to European testing standards. We fully expect U.S. EPA figures to be lower than that, but still impressive compared to other PHEVs.
But the real meat and potatoes of the new A3 tech upgrades come inside the car. According to an Audi press release, the A3 will be the first A-segment vehicle to offer MMI technology, Audi Drive Select, 4G LTE connectivity, and a 705-watt, 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system. The release added, “Even the base model of the all-new premium Audi A3 comes equipped with standard features that include leather upholstery, Bluetooth technology, rain sensing wipers, Audi pre sense basic, and a panoramic glass sunroof.”
The release also said Audi plans to include NVIDIA graphics processing unit (GPU) in the A3’s infotainment screen, a move it expects will help render smoother 3D images in all online, voice control, media navigation and telephone functions.
That graphics capability will come especially in handy when making use of the car’s ability to connect to 4G LTE networks, the release noted:
Now with 4G/LTE technology in the Audi A3, customers will be able to connect with a network capable of supporting data rates of up to 150 Mbit/s downstream and considerably faster response times. Using the existing Wi-Fi connectivity for up to 8 devices, passengers can now view high-definition videos and make video conference calls from the vehicle. Adding to the existing Google Earth™ 3D satellite imagery and intelligent POI search with Google Voice™ Local Search, the Audi A3 introduces a new Picture Navigation service. Here the driver can save photos of destinations, which are linked to geo-navigation data (GPS), in the “photo box” of MMI Navigation plus. These may be the driver’s own photos or scenes from Google Maps Street View. Photos can be imported via an SD card or a myAudi account.
A new app integration interface over Wi-Fi for music streaming and other connected device apps, voice-controlled social media features, and a completely redesigned user MMI interface allows drivers and passengers to continue to enjoy a connected lifestyle while in the vehicle without handling devices.