Production version of next A3 shown in official sketches

Audi has released three sketches of the next A3, including one previewing the saloon version, shown in concept form at last month’s Geneva motor show.

The sketches reveal an evolutionary look for the three-door version of Audi’s second best-selling model but it’s expected to have crisper edges and a slightly more angular look than the current model.

An interior preview shows a more pared back, simple cabin than has been traditional with Audis to date, and it’s expected to have the option of high-tech features from the more expensive saloons in the range; including the MMI system and a large, ultra-thin pop-up screen for the infotainment systems.

See the official sketches of the new Audi A3

The saloon is arriving after the three and five-door versions and is intended primarily for the US and Chinese markets, but it will go on sale in the UK sometime in 2012. It’s built on a 2630mm wheelbase, 35mm longer than the three-door, and is also wider and lower and is believed to be almost identical in size to the original A4 saloon.

Audi insiders claim that it is expected to steal some sales from the current A4 too, but it will have enough differentiation to pick up plenty of new customers – especially in the US.

Read more on Audi's A3 saloon concept from Geneva

Engineering sources are also claiming that the new generation of A3 will eventually have a large number of drivetrain options. Hybrid, plug-in hybrid and natural gas versions are planned, as well as a possible full electric version. It will also be available with most of the petrol and diesel engines in the current line-up.

The real thing is expected to be first shown in three door form at next year’s Geneva show. The five door and saloon will follow, as will a soft-top version.

Chas Hallett

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