Turbo five-pot four-door points to new baby saloon - and a 408bhp version of it
20 February 2011

Audi has issued these early sketches of a 408bhp, turbocharged, 2.5-litre five-cylinder A3-based saloon concept that will make its world debut at next week's Geneva motor show.

The new four-door, the existence of which was revealed by Autocar last year, previews an upcoming fourth variant of the A3 that Ingolstadt sources confirm will form part of a third-generation line-up due out in 2012. The range is also set to include similarly styled successors to today’s popular three-door hatchback, five-door Sportback and two-door cabriolet.

See the sketches of Audi's new A3 saloon concept

Conceived along similar lines to parent company Volkswagen’s latest Jetta and described as a spiritual successor to the original Audi 80, the new A3 variant is being looked upon to boost Audi sales in markets such as North America, China and Russia, where saloon body styles are traditionally favoured over hatchbacks.

“We’ve looked at the situation very carefully and come to the conclusion that a small sedan (saloon) positioned below the A4 has the potential to significantly increase sales penetration in a number of markets,” an Audi official told Autocar.

Drawing on Audi’s latest design lineage - as seen on the A8 and more recent A6 - the A3 saloon concept gets the German car maker’s prominent six-corner, single-frame grille, along with angular headlamps carrying complex LED internal graphics. Its tautly drawn body features a high waistline and relatively shallow glasshouse, as well as a sloping boot deck and horizontal tail lamps that are both similar in style to those gracing the A7.

At 4440mm in length, the new A3 concept is 188mm shorter than the Jetta and 260mm shorter than the Audi A4 saloon, which stretches to 4700mm. The upcoming production version of the new four-door is expected to retain the same dimensions.

As well as previewing the svelte styling of the upcoming A3 saloon, Audi’s latest concept also provides the best clues yet to parent company Volkswagen’s new MQB platform. Developed to replace the existing PQ36 structure, the MQB is set to provide the basis for a wide range of front and four-wheel-drive models, the first of which will be the third-generation A3.

Powering Audi’s latest concept is the same turbocharged 2.5-litre in-line five-cylinder used in the Quattro concept that the firm revealed at last year’s Paris motor show. With 408bhp on tap, it hints towards a sedan version of the second-generation RS3 that's tentatively due to join the Audi line-up in 2015.Greg Kable

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