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The Audi A3 is a Small Family/Compact car produced since 1996. The first two generations of A3 were based on the Volkswagen Group A platform, which they share with several other models such as the Audi TT, Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen Caddy, and Volkswagen Touran, as well as SEAT León, SEAT Toledo, and Škoda Octavia. The third-generation A3 uses the Volkswagen Group MQB platform.
The original A3 (or Typ 8L) was introduced in the European market in 1996, marking Audi’s return to the production of smaller cars following the demise of the Audi 50 in 1978. This was the first Volkswagen Group model to use the “PQ34” or “A4” platform, bearing a close resemblance to the contemporary Volkswagen Golf Mk4, which arrived a year later. Within three years, this platform was used for total of seven cars.
The A3 was initially available only with a three-door hatchback body, to present a more sporty image than the Golf, in both front and four-wheel drive. The inline four-cylinder engines were transversely mounted. After the A4, the Audi A3 was the second model in the Audi lineup to use five valves per cylinder.
The United Kingdom market first received the Audi A3 in November 1996.
At the 2003 Geneva Motor Show, Audi launched the second generation of the A3, the Typ 8P, designed by Gary Telaak during 2000 (however, the final design was frozen in 2001). Originally launched only as a three-doorhatchback with four-cylinder engines, it featured a new automobile platform (the PQ35 platform), a redesigned and more spacious interior, new petrol engines with Fuel Stratified Injection (FSI), and standard six-speed manual gearboxes (except on the base 1.6).
First vehicle using the flexible modular Volkswagen Group MQB platform, the third generation is available as a three-door hatchback, a five-door “Sportback”, a four-door saloon to directly rival the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, and a two-door Cabriolet.
Awards and accolades
- (2014) World Car of the Year
- (2013) What Car? Small Family Car of the Year
- (2013) What Car? Car of the Year 
- (2006) South African Car of the Year
- (2000) Brazilian Car of the Year
- (1997, 1999, 2000) Auto Motor und Sport readers’ poll Best Car award
- (1997) Autozeitung “Auto Trophy” award
- (1996) Bild am Sonntag “Golden Steering Wheel” award