Wheels & Deals: Audi drive on with new A3 despite virus outbreak; plus news on Lexus and Ford

Declan Colley says the new Audi A3 saloon boasts a lot more tech, from the infotainment through to the assist systems
Wheels & Deals: Audi drive on with new A3 despite virus outbreak; plus news on Lexus and Ford
The new Audi A3 saloon will be available in the autumn.

Although there is little happening in the car industry, because of the coronavirus outbreak, Audi have gone ahead and unveiled the second generation of their A3 saloon and it will be available in the autumn.

The new A3 saloon boasts a lot more tech — the car is digitally connected — from the infotainment through to the assist systems, and it is also a lot more dynamic to drive, according to the manufacturer.

Beneath the shapely body, new drives and refined suspension tuning ensure a driving experience that is as efficient as it is dynamic, Audi say.

The new car is 4cm longer, at 4.50m, than its predecessor, while its wheelbase remains unchanged. Its width has increased by 2cm, to 1.82m, and it is now 1cm taller, at 1.43m.

This has yielded an increase in headroom — a good 2cm in the front, thanks to the lower position of the driver seat — and some additional elbow room.

At 425l, the luggage capacity is exactly the same as in the predecessor model.

We are told that the cockpit is focused on the driver, beginning with the interior design and ending with the display and control elements. Thus, the instrument panel, with the central MMI touch display, is inclined slightly toward the driver.

The new saloon will be available with a choice of two TFSI engines and one TDI engine. The 35 TFSI, a 1.5l direct injection engine, produces 150PS, and is available in two versions: With a newly developed, six-speed manual transmission and with a quick-shifting, seven-speed S-tronic.

Besides the cylinder-on-demand technology, the powertrain, in conjunction with the S-tronic dual-clutch transmission, uses a 48-volt, mild-hybrid system. It recovers energy during deceleration, supports the engine with up to 50Nm of torque when driving off and accelerating from low engine speeds, and allows the A3 saloon to coast with the engine switched off in many situations.

In everyday driving, it is said to reduce consumption by up to 0.4l per 100km (62.1mpg).

Pricing for the A3 saloon in Ireland is expected to be announced during the summer.

New LC Coupe versions

Lexus has announced two revised versions of the hugely impressive LC Coupe for 2021.

The brief details we have been given include measures that reduce unsprung weight by around 10kg and suspension revisions for smoother, softer performance, with adjustments to shock absorbers and increased, rear anti-roll bar rigidity.

Lexus have also introduced active cornering assist and the LC 500 gains enhancements to 10-speed automatic transmission, while there is also revised shift timing for the LC 500h’s multi-stage hybrid system.

New interior and exterior colours and new-look, 20in forged alloy wheels will also be seen on the coupe, along with an updated multi-media system with smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The coupe will be available to order this summer and will come on stream in 2021.

The second thread here is the new convertible version of the coupe, which Lexus claim is their stab at creating the world’s most beautiful convertible car, although opinions will be divided on that one.

They say the new design preserves the award-winning styling motifs of the original LC Coupe, while introducing new features that express sportiness and elegance.

There has been a special focus on maintaining the coupe roofline through innovative soft-top design, while engineering and colour co-ordination between the cabin, soft-top, and exterior express luxurious quality and individual style.

Lexus maintain that the design mission for the team creating the LC Convertible was simple: Create the world’s most beautiful

open-top car.

The statement was straightforward, but the task was considerable, as Lexus were determined that the new model should preserve the essential styling motifs of the LC Coupe, the winner of multiple international awards for its striking and advanced design.

We will see both models early next year.

Mustang tops sales

As the Ford Mustang celebrates its 56th birthday, the model is claiming two global sales crowns: Firstly, earning the title as the world’s best-selling sports car and, secondly, notching up its fifth straight best-selling sports coupe title.

“We’re proud of our growing Mustang stable and performance variants,” said Jim Farley, the chief operating officer, Ford Motor Company.

“From Sweden to Shanghai, more and more driving enthusiasts are enjoying the feeling of freedom, and the American open road, in these new Mustangs,” said Mr Farley.

“We are honoured to serve our owners, enthusiasts, and fans for 56 years and counting,” he said.

Mustang sold 102,090 units, according to the most recent new vehicle registration data from IHS Markit, making it the best-selling sports car in the world in 2019.

During this period, Mustang sales in Germany increased 33%, in Poland by nearly 50%, and in France they nearly doubled.

2019 also marks the fifth consecutive year that Mustang was the best-selling sports coupe in the world.

Sports coupes, as defined by IHS Markit, include both two-door and convertible models.

Ford sold 9,900 Mustangs in Europe during 2019, which was a 3% increase year-on-year.

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