Scott Keough, President, Audi of America, talked to Lou Ann Hammond, CEO, www.drivingthenation.com, on the eve of the 2013 New York auto show. Audi did not unveil the A3 at the auto show, opting instead to show it to a small group of journalists until the official unveil at the 2013 Shanghai auto show.
The A3 will come out in a compact sedan and a sportback, the world’s largest market segment. The sedan will have four engine types; three gasoline turbos and one diesel. The sportback will also get the plug-in hybrid.
It’s a small vehicle, as small as the A4 was two generations ago, but Audi is not scrimping on luxury or technology. According to Audi, the A3 Sedan makes use of the new modular infotainment system (MIB). The top system is MMI Navigation plus with an SSD hard drive offering 64 GB of storage, a DVD drive and whole-word voice control. A high-resolution 7-inch-screen shows the map image in detailed 3D graphics. The MMI Navigation plus system interfaces to cell phones and mobile players via Bluetooth. The user terminal has a turn/push control designed as a “touchwheel” with MMI touch “ the touchwheels top surface is a touch-sensitive pad for inputting letters, symbols and numbers.
Other infotainment components include a module for digital radio reception (DAB+), the Audi phone box for conveniently coupling a cell phone to the car antenna and the Bang & Olufsen sound system. Its 705 watt amplifier drives 14 loudspeakers in 5.1 surround sound, and LED light guides illuminate the woofer grilles in the front doors.
Audi connect covers all technologies that network the driver with the car, the Internet, infrastructure and other vehicles. Audi has made the system even more appealing “ whenever possible the connection to the Internet is run over the super-fast LTE standard. The LTE telephone module replaces the previous UMTS module here, which enables a download rate of up to 100 MBit/s in the car.
Audi connect lets passengers conveniently surf and e-mail via an integrated WLAN hotspot. For the driver, it brings customized Internet services from Audi into the car. They range from navigation using images from Google Earth and Google Street View to Audi traffic information online and the smartphone app Audi music stream. News and information services complete the line-up. The online community services Facebook and Twitter are integrated in a vehicle-friendly way; along with a text-to-speech function, a practical text function is provided with prepared text unit’s.
A new Audi connect service that is making it’s debut in the A3 Sedan is parking space information. It shows information on parking spaces, parking garages and underground garages near a destination selected by the driver. Whenever possible, the service indicates the number of available spaces and parking fees. The street address of the parking space can be used as a navigation destination.