Audi are celebrating 20 years since the introduction of the A3, which made its debut at the 1996 Frankfurt Motor Show.
More than four million Audi A3’s have been sold worldwide in those two decades, with the model sold in over 100 countries.
Initially available as a three-door hatch, the premium compact is now into its third generation, and is now available in four body styles, drive systems, and a range of trim options. Developments saw the Quattro permanent all-wheel drive option on the A3 for the first time in 1998, and the following year a five-door variant joined the range, the same year the high-performance S3 version was added. During the second generation A3’s lifetime a softop was added, while the current A3 range is the first to feature a saloon model. The Audi RS 3 Sportback is the highlight of the current line up, and this year’s Paris Motor Show saw the debut of a new 395bhp 2.5-litre TFSI engine for the model.
The past two decades have seen the Audi A3 come on leaps and bounds in terms of technology. Audi’s virtual cockpit, an all-digital display with hi-res 12.3-inch TFT screen, can now be chosen in place of the analogue dash of the past, while the current generation A3 now has the option of natural gas or plug-in hybrid power in addition to the traditional petrol and diesel engine. The racing-inspired electrohydraulic dual-clutch transmission which debuted in the second-generation A3 has been further developed, and is now included across nearly the whole of the Audi line up. The halogen lights of the first Audi A3 have given way to xenon headlights as standard, while optional Matrix LED headlights are available. The current Audi A3 boasts the latest in advance safety assistance systems, including active lane assist, pre-sense front with predictive pedestrian protection, and the option of traffic jam assist.
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