Leading things off was a preview of the high performance RS3 that will be available in Europe in the second quarter of this year. Michelle Mouton, the female rally sensation of the 1980s who piloted a Quattro to a win at the legendary Pike’s Peak Hill Climb, was on hand to introduce what becomes the top of the current A3 lineup. Distinguishing it from other A3s are muscular wheel arches of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) and a 340 horsepower, turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine. Equipped with a 7-speed S-Tronic transmission and permanent all-wheel quattro system, the 3,472 pound four-door hatchback can charge from 0 to 62 mph in 4.6 seconds and still squeeze an average of nearly 26 miles from a gallon of gas.
The only bad news surrounding the RS3 is that Audi is mum about whether the RS3 will ever make it stateside.
Certain to make it here eventually, probably as a 2014 model, will be the production version of the handsome A3 Concept.
Eschewing the chunky compact look of the current A3 five-door hatchback, this vision of the next A3 features a handsome four-door sedan with elegant sculpted styling that resembles a shrunken A8.
Weighing in at 3,395 pounds including all-wheel drive, the A3 Concept illustrates Audi’s commitment to using aluminum and other lightweight materials such as CFRP to reduce weight in order to increase performance, handling and efficiency without sacrificing safety or rigidity.
The A3 Concept is derived from the new RS3 chassis, but boasts of a 408 horsepower five-cylinder turbocharged engine that powers it from 0 to 62 mph in 4.1 seconds. Fuel mileage averages just under 26 mpg.
The concept also showed off the latest version of Audi’s MMI infotainment system featuring a large rotary pushbutton control knob that incorporates a touch pad. Like the current A8, the A3 Concept has WLAN capability to serve as a wireless hotspot. Other high tech thinking comes in the form of rear seat holders for iPad use.
One wonders, however, how a larger, sedan version of the A3 will affect the sales of the A4. That is a tantalizing question for Audi as well as its future customers.
PATRICK PATERNIE "still plays with cars" as a freelance writer/photographer covering new and classic automobiles, racing, and the high-speed lifestyle that surrounds them. His driving exploits include vintage autos and the latest exotics on many of the world’s greatest roads and racetracks. Patrick is the author of seven books about Porsche, Mini, Corvette and muscle cars, and has written articles that appear in AutoWeek, duPont Registry, Inside Line, Robb Report and others.