Audi A3

Audi is putting on a big show at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show. The whole management board, a clutch of celebrities and what seemed like a thousand journalists were there to see the unveiling of the new A3. It seemed just a little predictable, but Audi knows what its buyers want.

The A3 might have been the star of the show, but it wasn't alone. A host of other new models were on display, including a limited-edition A1 quattro, an achingly seductive 450-horsepower RS4 Avant and a capable A6 Allroad.

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Audi A3

What is it? Want a VW Golf-sized hatchback with Audi kudos? The A3 is the car for you. First up will be the 3-door versions, but the 5-door Sportback won't be far behind, and then all hell will break loose with the convertible, saloon and quick quattros.

What's hot? It's the first showing of the VW Group's all-new MQV chassis, plus all-new gas and diesel engines. Lots of high-tech development in the interior, too, that trickles down from last year's new A6.

What's not? You could argue that Audi needs to shake itself out of its generic design. On the other hand, it knows its buyers better than most — just look at the sales figures.

How much and when? Prices will start at just under $30,000 when the new A3 goes on sale in September.

Anything else I need to know? Lighter than its predecessor, the new A3 offers class-leading performance and economy. Engines range from 1.4 TSI with 122 horsepower producing zero to 62 in 9.3 seconds, to a superefficient 1.6 TDI that can return 74.3 mpg and output just 99 grams per kilometre of carbon dioxide. There are, inevitably, lots more engines too.

View Pictures:  Audi in Geneva

Audi A1 Quattro

What is it? The most extreme version of the A1 so far, powered by a version of the Golf GTI engine mated to 4-wheel-drive. A true pocket rocket, if ever there was one.

What's hot? Performance promises to be awesome: zero to 62 mph in 5.7 seconds. The A1 quattro stands out, though subtly. White is the only color, and that comes with a glossy black roof and tiny, tell-tale "quattro" badges.

What's not? Audi is making just 333 of them, all left-hand-drive, and each one has already been snapped up by an Audi worshipper.

How much and when? At $64,000, the A1 quattro is mighty expensive. You could instead buy an RS3 and have dinner at the Ritz with the change. The first cars will be delivered later in 2012.

Anything else I need to know? The 2.0-liter turbo engine is uprated to 252 horsepower, a massive amount of power for a supermini. As well as reaching 62 mph in 5.7 seconds, it hammers on to a top speed of 152 mph. It also offers a combined fuel economy of 33.2 mpg.

Bing Images: Audi A1 Quattro