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DIESEL POCKET ROCKET

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Mon, Sep 7, 2009

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

By Roy Nakano Wouldn't it be great if you can combine your need for speed with the need for green? Sure, those new V8 musclecars look great and go fast, but there's the fuel factor - not to mention a prevailing concern to do our part in the name of environmental responsibility and lessen our dependance on fossil fuels. Actually, it is possible to combine sport with fuel frugality - ergo the Volkswagen GTI. But what if I were to tell you that you can get the sport of the GTI combined with the powerplant from the Green Car of the Year? That's exactly what Audi provided to LA Car in the form of the A3 TDI. Since this model is not slated to appear in the USA until November of 2010, Audi provided a European-spec A3 TDI to tool around in. Aside from seats a tad too narrow for overweight Americans, our Euro spec sample comes very close to what we can expect from this car when it finally makes it onto these shores.
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As you may already know, Audi's A3 shares its platform with the GTI, and the A3 2.0T has the performance, handling, and fun factor to match the GTI - albeit with a more upscale bent (check out those LED lights front and rear of the new A3). What the TDI powerplant provides to the package is even more low-end torque than the GTI motor, and, of course, fuel economy in the 40 miles per gallon range. Audi contends that this engine represents 30 percent better fuel economy and a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas than gasoline engines of comparable size. Audi knows a thing or two about diesels. It was the first German car manufacturer to combine direct-injection turbocharging with diesel engine technology in 1989 (TDI stands for turbocharged direct injection), and has continued to evolve its technology ever since. Audi Sport has helped prepare the way for TDI clean diesel in the United States by racing the R10 TDI sports car from 2006-2008 in the American Le Mans Series and sweeping the major endurance races at the 12 Hours of Sebring (Sebring, Fla.) and the 10-hour Petit Le Mans (Atlanta, Ga.). In addition, the R10 TDI won all three 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance races in which it competed from 2006-2008. The R15 TDI continued the TDI clean diesel performance tradition by winning the 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race in March 2009. Standard amenities on the A3 TDI include lighted vanity mirrors for drivers and front passengers within the sun visors, leather seating surfaces, cargo nets behind front seats, split folding 40/60 rear seats, rear seat arm rest with dual cup holders. Distinctive options include Audi Navigation plus with RDS traffic, Bluetooth® hands-free phone preparation, Audi music interface (integration for iPod® and related technology), BOSE® premium sound, the Titanium package with dark grey wheels and black grille, leather/alcantara seating, wood trim, rain/light sensors, auto-dimming exterior and interior rear-view mirror with integrated compass, and LED daytime running lights. All this, and an MSRP of $29,950.

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While this new technology diesel in the A3 TDI is commendably quiet, you can still hear that distinct diesel sound - particularly if you get out of the car and stand next to the engine. There's just enough of it to let you know you're not driving an ordinary car. As one who has had great experience with modern day diesels, it's music to these ears. When the clean diesel is combined with the A3's ultra-rigid platform, front McPherson strut and multi-link rear suspension, speed-sensitive electromechanical power steering, and wheels and rubber combination, the driver is left with one of the sportiest green machines this side of the Atlantic. If your image of a green car is devoid of sport and fun, prepare to have that image shattered - the A3 TDI delivers a level of performance and handling unlike any compact hybrid sedan or hatchback on the market. This model is equipped with Audi's verson of the DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission with sequential manual capability - i.e., Audi's S-tronic transmission. As with most other dual-clutch automatic transmissions, this one is quicker and gets better fuel economy than a manual transmission. In Europe, Volkswagen introduced a car very similar to this one, called the GTD. It's essentially the new GTI with the Green Car of the Year motor. Sporting dieselheads have gone wild over the GTD, but it's still not known if VW will import it into this country. In reality, you will be able to purchase such a vehicle as of November of 2009 - only it will be called the Audi A3 TDI. Sporting dieselheads, your car has arrived.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT It's like combining a GTI with the Green Car of the Year.

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SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2010 Audi A3 2.0 TDI Price: $29,950 (excluding $825 destination charge, taxes, title, options, and dealer charges) Standard Equipment Features · Hill-hold assist (already standard on S tronic models) · Sirius satellite radio - standard on all · Leather seating surfaces - standard on all · Leather steering wheel - standard · Aux audio input - standard · Dual-zone climate control · 17" alloy wheels EPA estimated fuel economy (miles per gallon): 30/42 mpg city/highway (est.) Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged, common-rail direct-injection with piezoelectric injectors, four-in-line clean diesel 50-state legal, with no after-treatment system required Horsepower: 140 at 4,000 rpm Torque: 236 pound-feet of torque at 1,750-2,500 rpm Drive configuration: Front-wheel drive 2010 Audi A3 2.0 TDI clean diesel: Quick Reference: USA Data Key Summary Points · The freshened Audi A3 launched in September 2008 (2009 MY). · The 2009 model year freshening expanded the A3 lineup with quattro all-wheel drive on the efficient 2.0 TFSI engine (200 hp / 207 lb-ft torque). · Audi A3 moves into a market space presently unoccupied in the luxury segment, that of a highly efficient diesel small luxury car. · Audi's TDI clean diesel technology expands the A3 lineup in the direction of efficiency, providing over 40 mpg highway. · A3 holds a unique position in the Audi family, targeting buyers who need a small but versatile package without sacrificing luxury and sportiness. · A3 2.0 TDI is Audi's second U.S. TDI clean diesel announcement. · A3 is already rated a "Top Safety Pick" by the IIHS for top frontal/side/rear crashes (source iihs.org). Market · Key competitors are BMW 1-series, Mini Cooper S, Volvo C30 and S40, and now Toyota Prius and Honda Insight. Design · Audi signature LED daytime running lights with optional xenon lights. · Unique tail lights with LED light guides · Enhanced exterior and interior design, new wheel program. · Versatile interior design, providing unmatched utility for urban environments. Dynamics · Sporty McPherson front suspension and multilink independent rear suspension for high lateral rigidity. · Speed-sensitive electromechanical power steering · High rigidity due to the use of tailored blanks for adapting steel grade and thickness to the material stresses. Powertrain · 2.0 TDI clean diesel engine with S tronic (dual clutch) and front-wheel drive o Specifications: 140 hp, 236 lb-ft torque, in-line 4 cylinder turbocharged clean diesel with common rail direct injection and piezoelectric injectors o 50-state legal, with no after-treatment system required o Exclusively with S tronic (dual clutch) transmission with front-wheel drive Standard Equipment Features · Hill-hold assist (already standard on S tronic models) · Sirius satellite radio - standard on all · Leather seating surfaces - standard on all · Leather steering wheel - standard · Aux audio input - standard · Dual-zone climate control · 17" alloy wheels Launch Timing · USA Audi A3 2.0 TDI clean diesel goes on sale November 2009 as a 2010 model year vehicle.

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