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Audi updates the A3 with an interesting new variant

The A3 Allstreet is a new crossover variant of the model

Small luxury cars are still a thing, as Audi shows. PHOTO FROM AUDI

Audi has refreshed the A3 portfolio and introduced a new crossover version, the A3 Allstreet.

After a good four years in production, Audi is giving the fourth-generation A3 a bit of a facelift. Changes come on the inside and the outside, with things like a new light signature, a revamped cabin space, and a brand-new model variant.

The A3 Allstreet is a compact crossover presumably aimed at bridging the gap between the A3 and the Q3 for those buyers who want a normal car but like the SUV-style driving position. It will take pride of place in showrooms next to the four-door sedan and the five-door Sportback.

The A3 Allstreet is the definition of what a soft-roader is. PHOTOS FROM AUDI

The new Allstreet sits 30mm higher than its siblings thanks to a 15mm increase in ride height and larger wheels. That doesn’t make it a full-blown off-roader, but the look—complete with plastic wheel-arch cladding—is bound to appeal to many buyers. There’s also no AWD version, at least not for now, and the refreshed range will all feature FWD only.

Initially, buyers can choose from two different four-bangers: the 35 TFSI (a 1.5-liter mild-hybrid petrol) or the 35 TDI (a 2.0-liter diesel), both producing 150hp. The seven-speed S Tronic dual-clutch auto box is the only option at launch, with a manual six-speed gearbox promised for the petrol version at a later date.

It's not a massive overhaul, but still a very nice cabin to be in. PHOTOS FROM AUDI

The already nice interior has been sharpened up a bit, and now features more kit as standard, such as the three-spoke multifunction steering wheel, an ambient light package, and a front center armrest. The gearshift, the air vents, and various other bits have been redesigned to emphasize what Audi calls the progressive and technical look of the A3.

On the tech and entertainment side, the standard kit includes DAB+ digital radio, a 10.1-inch touchscreen, the Audi virtual cockpit, a wireless smartphone charger, and four USB chargers (two at the front and two in the rear).

Pay a bit more and you can get MMI navigation plus that comes with the connect portfolio of apps that you can download straight from the app store and without having to use your smartphone. Apps can also be controlled by voice, and Amazon Alexa can be used to stream music or even control smart devices in your home while you’re out on the road.

Why is Audi charging for basic functionality that should have been standard in the first place? PHOTO FROM AUDI

Sadly, Audi is also engaging in the horrible practice of subscription-based features these days. The marketing department is trying hard to sell it as a good thing that up to five infotainment and comfort functions can now be added even after you have bought the car.

These include MMI navigation plus with Audi connect services, adaptive cruise assist, high-beam assist, and even the ability to change the air-conditioning to a two-zone comfort version. Where in the olden days you would have just ticked the box on the options sheet before buying the car, Audi now offers them as a one-month, three-month, six-month, one-year, three-year, or permanent subscription.

Not everything has to be a crossover, thankfully. PHOTOS FROM AUDI

On the safety side of things, owners get to enjoy Audi pre-sense front collision avoidance, turn assist, and lane-departure warnings.

If you fork out the extra cash for adaptive cruise assist, you’ll also get a new lane-change function, and the car can then handle acceleration, braking, and steering up to 210km/h and lane changes at speeds above 90km/h. For urban settings, there’s park assist and park assist plus, lane-change and exit warning, as well as rear cross-traffic assist.

Order books for the refreshed A3 and the new A3 Allroad are opening now, and we expect them to arrive on our shores at some point in the future. Local prices aren’t available yet, but German customers will have to pay at least €35,650 (P2.16 million) for the Sportback, €36,450 (P2.2 million) for the sedan, and €37,450 (P2.26 million) for the Allstreet.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring. He writes the aptly named ‘Frankly’ column.