Editor’s Note: Some know Brian McCauley as an ambitious Audi brand specialist at Audi North Scottsdale. Longtime readers of this site may even remember him as a former contributor. Brian spearheaded one of our first project car series here on Fourtitude with his then new green A3 Sportback. Now, here we are a full platform generation later and Brian has returned with keys to a new Audi A3 sedan in hand. You probably know where this is going…
[Begin Story, photos by David Venezia, www.Venezia-Photography.com]
Not too often does one get to take part in a project, a build, or a part of something that is new and ground-breaking. But then getting the chance to take that item from blank canvas of metal, plastic, and rubber to something of cutting edge beauty and sophistication is even more rare. Getting that item to a point where it garners plenty of attention isn’t an easy thing and takes a lot of work and coordination with the hope that the end result will be appreciated or admired.
Back in 2005 we did just that. We, meaning Fourtitude.com and me (Brian), took a brand new car that had just arrived in the United States and made something quite a bit more impressive of it within just a few shorts months. From its purchase in May 2005 to its debut at SEMA just six months later, the original Fourtitude.com ProjectA3 turned a lot of heads and lead the way for the modification of that then-new model and platform here in North America.
Fast forward to current day 2014 and we have another new small Audi hitting our shores with the same name, but this time a different, more typical body shape. The 2015 Audi A3 has swapped its squared-off hatch for a notchback trunk attached to a sedan body. Up until now, Audi has never made an A3 sedan, with huge demand from its home European market for the 3 and 5-door hatch, the Germans didn’t see a sedan as necessary. However, when your two largest export markets, North America and China, ask for a sedan to sell at double or triple the rate that hatch did, you tend to listen.
Yet again Audi and its parent Volkswagen have presented us with another new platform, this time called the MQB (Modularer Baukasten or modular transverse matrix platform). This new platform will allow the Volkswagen group to build a variety of cars from small city cars and sedans, to sports cars off of one lego-block-like chassis with just the area around the pedal box consistent between them. This will reduce costs for production and also allow more expensive and lightweight materials, cutting edge digital technology and a wide variety of cars that would have never been possible in the past without charging premium prices across the board. One good thing about this new chassis is that it still has similar parts and pieces to the outgoing 6th generation “A” platform, so items like wheels and suspension should be available quite quickly for those wanting to express themselves through their new A3.
Audi has been known for quite some time now for their cutting edge technology, engineering, and motorsports, so this new A3 is an excellent showcase in all of those areas wrapped into a smaller, more dynamic package. Audi’s tagline for this new car is “Stay Uncompromised.” The idea behind this motto was to build an Audi in a small package, but not cut the typical corners companies normally do in order to meet a new low price point. From building materials, to technology, to standard equipment, Audi has built a lot into this car right from the beginning. In the past, German luxury car makers have brought over their small alternatives for Americans to drive, but those cars lacked the quality their bigger more luxurious family members had. This time around Audi has taken its know-how of using high-end materials and the latest in safety and communication technology that it uses in its flagship model the A8, and downsized all of it to fit its new compact sedan. If that wasn’t enough Audi then went a few steps further and expanded on the Audi connect feature making the A3 the world’s first car with 4G LTE connectivity, making this pocket sedan one of the most cutting-edge vehicles on the road and our goal is to utilize and tap into that technology.
Having now worked as an Audi Brand Specialist for around 11 years, I’ve seen my share of cars, delivered hundreds of them to happy new owners, and have had five of my own (in addition to nine Volkswagens). Through Audi I’ve been able to travel all around the United States and even was fortunate enough to go to Germany for the Q5 hybrid launch and tour the factory. Audi has been such a huge part of my life and is a phenomenal brand to work with on a daily basis. Very few people can say they truly enjoy their jobs and fortunately I have been one of the few who can for 11 years. My car modifying days started in 1997 with a new ’97 VW GTI VR6 fresh out of high school. Two years later I found a new website called VWVortex.com and then joined Fourtitude when it was launched. These websites and their communities have been a constant for nearly 15 years now and have helped in countless ways with my various cars and with meeting many wonderful people that have turned into great friends. I have had my fair share of modified cars that have been seen by thousands all over the world and want to continue that with this one. My modification taste has gone from mild to wild depending on the car, and I even managed to keep a few stock, although with personal turmoil in order to do so.
That brings us to this new 2015 A3. I have traded in my 2013 Audi allroad, and the A3 will join my 2004 Volkswagen R32 and 1996 Volkswagen Cabrio VR6 painted in Audi Exclusive Ipanema Brown Metallic and riding on Air Lift and AccurAir products. Having the Cabrio as my show car will certainly make future decisions difficult when I need to pick a car to take to local car shows or events. The R32 is 99% stock and will be eventually sold after the A3 is on it’s way to making a statement, clearing a garage spot leaving nothing outside to bake in the Arizona sun on a daily basis. When it came time for dealerships to start ordering A3’s in January, I knew what I wanted even before the order guide was released. Only one thing left me disappointed when I was finally able to review the specs and colors though: the lack of bright fun exterior hues that I was hoping Audi would choose for the youthful target audience that will hopefully purchase this car in droves. With Brilliant Red being the brightest, look-at-me color, I started with that as it was a color I was familiar with and didn’t want to make a mistake on one of the new colors offered like Shiraz Red or Lotus Grey. I also contemplated going with an Audi Exclusive color but the option list would push the sticker price pretty high, I just couldn’t justify another $3,900 for custom paint. From there it was now time to delve into the new technology that the A3 is bringing to a class of car that has never seen before.
One of the A3’s biggest selling points is the new technology that is offered in the car. They’ve expanded their well-know MMI technology to a more modular design with NVIDIA working directly with Audi to make the MMI system easily upgradeable as time passes. This particular car had all of the boxes check. Housed within the Brilliant Red paint is a full black leather interior with the optional black headliner. The aluminum trim, looking like it was chiseled out of the black dash and door panels is joined by TT-styled air vents with new jet engine style directional movements. The optional aluminum foot pedal caps are reminiscent of the B8 S4 and S5 and round off the interior with a sporty and very German look. Sitting above the center air vents housed within the dashboard is a half inch thin LCD screen that rises up, backed by its magnesium black metal rear to protect it from the heat and to keep it light when it opens and closes. This screen as in previous MMI systems is the display for music, telephone, navigation, and car functions but it is now able to display Facebook and Twitter account information, picture destinations and information from a new smartphone app called MMI Connect that Audi has designed for A3 owners.
This car is also specced with the new Advanced Technology Package, something completely new for a car of this size and value. This tech-laden option gives the A3 Adaptive Cruise Control with stop & go, Active Lane Assist, and Audi pre-sense plus which is an accident detection system that applies to the front and rear of the car. To get this advanced technology the car has to be equipped with the top of the line Prestige package. In Audi speak that equals the highest trim package you can order. The Prestige package gives the car the 705 watt Bang & Olufsen sound system, S line exterior with gloss black front grill, MMI Navigation plus, S-Line badges on the aluminum door sills and front fenders, the backup camera and parking sensors, more aggressive bumpers and sportier side sills. But the crowning jewel of this package are the full LED headlights, the first of their kind in a compact car. This advanced lighting technology was introduced on cars in 2008 in the form of daytime running lights on the Audi R8 only to be followed two years later in the form of full LED headlights. Audi’s 4 ring logo has nearly taken a back seat to the recognition and trend that their LED lights started in 2008 causing many other manufacturer’s to play copy cat with this new illumination technology. The lights produce the closest lumen rating that our sun puts off making visibility extremely good and less intrusive to oncoming traffic. The 18-inch summer performance tires round out the ordered option list but they nor the wheels they are mounted on will stick around too long and find a home in the garage until.
Like the last Project A3 collaboration, this one won’t stay stock for very long. At the time of this posting it is already getting parts added to make it in time for its “debut” at Wuste 2014 in Las Vegas on May 30th. The modifications will start with simple bolt-on parts, but being a new car to the US, some parts will have to be made or come from Germany as was the case in 2005. The goal for the car is a very clean and classy look with a hint of a motorsports theme. With that in mind we hope to tap the shoulder of both local and global companies as well as some old friends we’ve known for a long time and give them each our support in return for their help.
Here comes Project A3 Part Deux…..
- Brilliant Red
- Black interior with black headliner
- Prestige Package
- Advanced Technology package
- summer tires
- aluminum pedal caps
- $44,475 MSRP