Audi bets on new A3 to prevent Mercedes-Benz’s small cars from getting the advantage

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 27, 2012

The redesigned Audi A3 went on sale in Germany. The Volkswagen Group is depending on this premium compact model for its growth to remain stable as it attempts to prevent Mercedes-Benz’s upscale small cars from getting the advantage. The A3’s exterior styling is only slightly different from its predecessor.

Audi is emphasizing safety systems like video cameras that assist in returning the car to the right lane if a driver drifts off the track. It also comes with electronic gadgets like a retractable flat-panel control screen for the entertainment system. The A3 will be competing with the Mercedes A-class hatchback, which is set to arrive at dealerships on September 15. The A class received a major overhaul with a design that’s sportier.

It also has accident-prevention features from the flagship S class of the Daimler unit. Stefan Bratzel, the director of the Center of Automotive Management at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany, said that Audi will be challenged to attract new customers with the A3 to rival the A class. In response to this, Mercedes is expanding its compact range from the current two models to at least five in the coming years. Mercedes was overtaken by Audi to take the No. 2 spot in global luxury vehicle sales in 2011.

This campaign for small models is meant to meet the rising demand from consumers in cities that have limited space. So to comply with stricter environmental regulations, the brands’ deliveries of fuel-efficient cars have to be strong enough in order to offset the emission levels of high-margin luxury sedans and sport-utility vehicles. Jonathon Poskitt, an analyst with LMC Automotive in Oxford, England, said that the re-styled A class makes "the new A3's job that much more difficult." He said that it will be a difficult task to surpass the success of the past generation.

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