Audi A3 5-door 1999 posters

Audi A3 5-door

The original A3 (or Typ 8L) was the first Volkswagen Group vehicle to make use of the "PQ34" or "A4" platform. Its design closely matched that of the contemporaneous Volkswagen Golf Mk4. Over the following three years, this platform was used to manufacture seven cars. Initially, only a three-door hatchback was available, emphasizing a sporty image compared to the Golf. It featured transverse-mounted, inline four-cylinder engines and was available with front and four-wheel drive. Additionally, this was the second model in Audi's lineup to have five valves per cylinder.

The A3 became available in the United Kingdom in November 1996. Subsequently, in 1999, Audi enriched the model range with more powerful versions, namely the 1.8 Turbo and a 1.9 TDI diesel engine. The A3 1.8T quattro offered either a 150 PS (110 kW; 148 hp) or 180 PS (130 kW; 180 hp) engine and a Haldex Traction-based four-wheel-drive system that was also employed in the S3 and the Audi TT. That same year, the five-door body style was added to the line-up.

Meanwhile, in late 2000, Audi updated the A3 range with new headlights, a modified interior, and a six-speed manual gearbox for the 180 PS (132 kW; 178 hp) 1.8 Turbo and 130 PS (96 kW; 128 hp) 1.9 TDI. It also included Audi's electronic stability control, traction-control, and brake force distribution computer as standard in some countries.

Before being replaced in Europe in 2003, the first-generation A3 was kept on the market in certain markets until 2006. In terms of safety, it held a Euro NCAP rating of 4 out of 5 stars. Issues were detected in the knee impact area for the driver, which could otherwise result in high pressures and damage to the knees. Unfortunately, this model provided almost no protection to pedestrians, earning it just two starts out of four.

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