It’s rather clear, then, what sort of impact the original Audi A3 had on the industry. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, Audi claims the A3 is available in no less than 54 variants, ranging from a three-door to a convertible model. The top-of-the-line RS 3 has been facelifted for the 2017 model year, presents itself in sedan form, and it’s matched with a five-cylinder 2.5 TFSI powerplant.
As I’m sure you know, all that fury is contained by a performance-spec quattro system. The model to thank for that is, once again, the original A3. The year was 1998 when Audi introduced all-wheel-drive in the A3 hatchback. Regarding its sporting potential, today’s RS 3 wouldn’t have existed if it were not for the original S3. The Kompaktsportwagen came to be in 1999, complete with a 1.8-liter turbo engine with five valves per cylinder with 207 horsepower (210 PS) and 199 lb-ft (270 Nm) of get-up-and-go on tap.
If I may turn back time to the first-generation A3 once again, I’d like to highlight that the A3 predates the Golf IV by a year. Both models were underpinned by the A4 platform, underpinnings that formed the basis for the New Beetle, Bora, TT, SEAT Leon, and Skoda Octavia. Yup, the first A3 set things in motion for the Volkswagen Group’s late 1990s compact offensive.
For that and many more, here’s a happy birthday to Audi’s compact car!