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Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series future: the successors to the premium compacts

Christian Schulte
Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series future
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W your size comes from within, taught the Chinese philosopher Confucius centuries ago, without falling on too open ears. But it's never too late to rethink, and German premium manufacturers in particular are currently realizing that small can be really fine: Audi is adding the A1 to its range, BMW is planning a model below the 1 Series and is expanding the Mini family. The importance of the compact class is also increasing. At the peak of their model cycles, the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series achieved sales figures of over 200,000 units per annum - a success story that is now to be continued: The new edition of the BMW 1 Series will be launched in 2011, followed by the Audi A3 successor in 2012.

The Audi A3 remains a blood brother of the VW Golf

The Audi A3 even anticipates the technology of the seventh Golf generation with an earlier start of sales . Based on the modular system, the number of identical parts is around 70 percent: seats, window lifters, air conditioning and the drive train are identical in the Audi A3 and VW Golf. Thanks to the new, flexible design, both models can be offered with a wide variety of drive types. The A3 is conceivable as an e-car, a hybrid and a natural gas model.

BMW does not have such extensive plans for the 1 Series: It is again closely linked to the BMW 3 Series, retains an exotic status as a rear-wheel drive in the compact class and is powered by four-cylinder turbos from the PSA cooperation at the start of sales. Three-cylinders are to follow, but technical director Klaus Draeger doesn't want to know anything about the hybrid drive in this class: 'I can't currently imagine that for the 1 Series, but for the next 3 Series.' And there will be no e-version either, since BMW will reserve it for the Mega City Vehicle from 2014 onwards.

Audi and BMW want to further reduce CO2 emissions

Both manufacturers nevertheless concentrate on significantly reducing CO2 emissions once again. The most economical BMW 1 Series (116d) is currently at 118 g /km, in future it should be less than 100 g /km. Audi is already one step further: the Audi A3 1.6 TDI (105 PS) is content with just 99 grams, so that the next generation should emit another ten grams less - with the help of the new diesel from the modular diesel kit. This includes three- and four-cylinder according to the Euro 6 standard with 1.2 to two liters displacementas well as 75 to 180 hp. The situation is similar with the gasoline engines, whereby the performance spectrum here in the Audi S3 version with two-liter biturbo should reach up to 300 hp.

The eight-speed automatic is celebrating its premiere in the compact class

BMW relies on a 1.5-liter turbodiesel in the 1 Series, as it was shown for the first time in the IAA study Vision Efficient Dynamics last year and which should be available with 95 to 177 hp. As with Audi, the three-cylinder petrol engine has a displacement of 1.2 liters (75 to 184 hp), and the turbocharged four-cylinder engine with two liters and up to 245 hp ranks above this. Incidentally, the eight-speed automatic transmission, which the BMW 1 Series and the BMW 3 Series will also take over from the larger model series in the future, is celebrating its premiere in the compact class. Customers now expect economical engines in combination with an automatic start-stop. What has recently particularly appealed to them about the compact class is the extensive range of equipment that hardly has to shy away from comparison with the luxury league: At Audi and BMW, camera-based systems will ensure that there is also an A3 and a 1 Series with blind-spot monitoring, Lane change warning, traffic sign recognition and adaptive cruise control will be provided.

The Audi A3 will also be equipped with luxury-class technology

Audi equips the A3 with the rotary push button of the Audi A8 to operate the multimedia system and the map displays on the high-resolution color display come from the brand's flagship. Digital radio reception, a 180 watt sound system, ten-channel amplifier and an armada of loudspeakers ensure the right groove in the interior. There is also a matching MMI system with a 60 gigabyte hard drive, voice control and CD drive for MP3 formats. Extensive infotainment has always been one of the strengths of the BMW 1 Series, but the range is being expanded further. Internet access should become faster, the map graphics have more 3D elements and can then reproduce house facades close to reality. Incidentally, together with supplier Harman, BMW is working very actively on the development of new sound systems that use less power and thus also help to save fuel. A trick is the use of much thinner and therefore lighter cables.

Mercedes also wants to get into the premium compacts

It sounds promising what the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series will offer in the future to have. The fight for premium status in the compact class will eventually get tougher, because Mercedes too intends to seriously participate again from 2012 with a very coupé-like A-Class. Whether this advance will work is still in the stars at the moment.

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