Just one year after the debut of the A3 Concept that revealed Audi's plans for an A3 sedan, Ingolstadt will launch the first production version (a 3-door) of the all-new A3, again at the Geneva Motor Show. The new A3 will set new standards for Audi's range of small sub-A4 cars, adopting many of the infotainment upgrades already seen in the brand's larger cars. Improvements will certainly not end there though as the A3 will mark the first in the Volkswagen Group portfolio to make full use of the company's new MQB architecture.
What is "MQB"? In short, this is a highly modular component set for cars with transverse engines. Several years ago Audi implemented a similar strategy for its longitudinal engine cars. Dubbed "MLB", that component set now underpins the A4, A6, A7, A8 and Q5, with the Q7, Cayenne and Touareg soon to follow when it evolves with the upcoming MLB-evo. MLB is a rather brilliant modular component plan that allowed Audi to produce more chassis variants and with a higher degree of size differentiation flexibility. It was also more profitable, allowing Ingolstadt to build previously riskier models like the A5 Sportback or A7. Models such as these might sell in small numbers but can now be produced profitably.
We've heard that MLB was a plan devised when Martin Winterkorn was then head of Audi. Winterkorn moved to Volkswagen several years ago and perhaps it's no surprise that the successful longitudinal strategy has been applied to the Volkswagen Group's smaller transverse cars (and will soon even be applied to its mid-engine sportscars in the form of MSS and MSB-M platforms as well as front-mid engine cars MSB for Porsche, Lamborghini and Bentley use.
Back to MQB, the A3 is nearing launch and Bloomberg has set its industry analysts upon its examination. The Bloomberg piece linked below, published in the San Francisco Chronicle, offers an interesting analysis of what MQB means for Audi and the Volkswagen Group as a whole. There's both a technical and business case approach here and the piece includes quotes by both industry analysts and highly-placed executives at Volkswagen. It's definitely worth the read.