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Audi A3 Premium Compact Celebrates 20th Anniversary

The Audi A3 now accounts for a significant chunk of Audi's sales, being one of the most affordable models they offer. And while versions like the sedan or the e-tron PHEV didn't exist before, the A3 is an established car model, turning 20 years old today.
Audi A3 Premium Compact Celebrates 20th Anniversary 1 photo
Exactly two decades ago, on September 18, 1995, the first Audi A3 came off the assembly line in Ingolstadt. The premium compact was a strange idea at the time, and many said it was just a Golf in a different clothing, but customers in Germany loved it.

Since then, Audi Group has assembled 3.5 million units of the A3 through three different generations. That's not exactly a lot when you compare it to the Golf, but it is one of the most successful Audi models.

“20 years of the Audi A3 – that is 20 years of success in the compact class. Back then, we founded a new segment with the A3. Today, the high-volume A3 family is a fixed component of our model lineup,” says Prof. Dr. Hubert Waltl, Audi Board Member for Production. “Two decades of the Audi A3 – and behind it a highly qualified production team. Without them, such a success story would not have been conceivable.”

Most of the press release they sent our way talks about the diversity and "success of the A3". The Germans like to tout their own horn, but they do have a point. When the A3 was launched, it was a little 3-door hatchback with rounded proportions, but now you can have it in four body styles and with engines ranging from a tiny 1.2 to the 2.5-liter TFSI of the RS3. How many do they make per year?
Good question. In 2001, part of the production was moved from Germany to a new site in Gyor, Hungary. That's where the sedan and cabriolet models are currently built, and exports travel all the way to America or Australia. In 2014, the total volume there was 117,578 models. However, production for the European market was a little over 200,000 when the hatchbacks that are still made in Ingolstadt get taken into account.

In 2014, the A3/S3/RS3 was the tenth best selling car in Europe and of the Top 10 only the Skoda Octavia saw a higher growth in demand. However, Volkswagen's Golf, which is built on the same platform, sold 520,958 examples, so the Audi has a long way to.

Overseas factories also assemble the A3 for local markets. Last year, a total of 46,000 Audi A3 Sportback and A3 Sedan cars were produced at the Chinese plant in Foshan. 10,000 additional A3 Sedans were built in Aurangabad, India, though these are just knocked down kits. Soon, the premium brand will be producing the A3 Sedan in Brazil as well.


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