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Auto blogSun, 21 Jul 2013 11:00:00 EST
About a month after Volkswagen celebrated building its 30-millionth example of the Golf, Audi has announced that it has produced three million versions of its small hatchback, the closely related Audi A3. Probably more surprising than the fact that the A3 has moved in such big numbers since its global debut in 1996 is the fact that it has done so with relatively little support in the US, seeing marginal sales in the States since 2005.
The three-millionth A3 was a Sportback TDI model, but the lineup has grown this year to include a new sedan and S3 model, and the hybrid A3 E-tron is on the way. With these new models - especially the sedan in the US - we expect the A3 to continue to be a popular entrant in the premium small segment. Scroll down for Audi's official press release.
Speculation continues as to the final nature of the diesel-hybrid Audi supercar said to arrive in 2016 or 2017. A previous report in Automobile had the halo coupe, based closely on the R18 etron quattro endurance racer, codenamed R20 and pegged to look like a Le Mans winner for the street with around 700 horsepower and 737 pound-feet of torque from a twin-turbo V6. Now Car and Driver has updated the gossip with a report that the car is internally called "Scorpion," and it will be even closer to the R18 than supposed.
CD says the heart of the car will use the R18 etron quattro's carbon fiber tub and its engine will be "taken directly" from the race car. That means a 3.7-liter V6 with a single turbo that, in ACO-spec restricted form, outputs 500 hp and 625 lb-ft - CD suspects production output could get to 600 hp - and drives the rear wheels, aided by hybrid motors driving the front wheels. And remember, at Le Mans the R18's hybrid motors can't kick in until they're above a certain speed in order to prevent Audi from getting an advantage coming out of slow corners. A street car wouldn't face that restriction.
The Scorpion would be a fulsome and undiluted example of the technologies Audi has created during its return to sports car racing. Its exterior design hasn't been finalized, with CD citing either the convoluted concept of "a retro take on the future of racing" or packaging that would adhere to the R18's looks. To make sure it is properly appreciated and sells well, production could be limited to the same 333 units as the R8 GT and A1 Quattro.
Audi could be getting even more diverse with its powertrains for the A6, A8 and Q7, moving beyond offering just gas- and diesel-powered models and adding plug-in hybrid variants of the three luxury vehicles. The report comes from Indian Autos Blog, which spoke to Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi's research and design chief, who confirmed the PHVs.
The next-generation Q7, due in 2015, will be the pioneer for the full-size PHV movement from Audi, although the A3 Sportback E-Tron (shown above) will precede it. The move toward plug-ins by Audi is a big step, as the German marque has stayed quite firmly in the diesel camp, outside of its racing efforts. It's developed a few E-Tron cars over the years, including a version based on the R8, although it wasn't until recently that production of the electric sports car became serious again.
It's believed that this hesitance to really dive into the PHV market is why Audi sacked former research and design boss Wolfgan Dürheimer, with IAB speculating that his approach was too conservative.