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Audi A3 Sportback gets closer to U.S. update (pictures)

Audi showed off the new five-door version of the Audi A3 at the Paris Motor Show, following the three-door version shown last year. Although no new U.S. model has been announced, the five-door version will probably be the one eventually offered.

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Wayne Cunningham

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PARIS--Although Audi has sold A3 models in Europe since 1999, it did not hit U.S. shores until 2005, and then only in the five-door Sportback version. The car has been long due for an update, but Audi is taking its time with this one. At the Geneva auto show earlier this year, Audi unveiled its updated three-door A3, and now, in Paris, Audi showed off the five-door variant, called the A3 Sportback. As Audi will likely continue to only offer the Sportback in the U.S., this is the car we will probably get, and even then not until 2014.
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This new A3 has different lines than the current model, with a more drastic drop-off at the rear. Where the current model looks like a small wagon, this new one deserves the name Sportback.
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In all, Audi will offer the A3 Sportback with six different engines, half diesel and half gasoline. The model shown here features a new 2-liter turbo diesel, good for 150 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. The most likely engine to be used in the U.S. model would be a gasoline-fueled, turbocharged 1.8-liter. This one makes 180 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. As Audi currently offers a diesel (TDI) A3 in the U.S., the new 2-liter diesel may find its way over as well.
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With this update, Audi notes that it shaved almost 200 pounds from the car, which should make it more efficient. As it does currently, Audi will offer a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
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Audi will make available just about every technology in the A3 the company currently offers in its high-end models, including driver assist features such as adaptive cruise control and automatic parking. For the infotainment system, Audi uses a new Multi-Media eXtension (MMX) board hosting an Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. MMX powers a variety of infotainment features that can be upgraded.
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A new, thin LCD pops up from the dashboard in the A3. Middle-trim models get a 5.3-inch screen that can be optioned with navigation on an SD card. The top trim includes a 7-inch screen with navigation hosted on a 60-gigabyte hard drive. This navigation system will also show Google Earth maps, as the car will have an onboard data connection.
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This new controller on the console combines Audi's classic MMI dial and buttons with its new touch pad, deployed in the A6, A7, and A8 models. The touch pad here is integrating with the top of the dial, making for overall better space usage.

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