The new A3 sports a bold new look that links it closely with the smaller A1 and higher-riding Q3. The upcoming BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class rival, known under the internal codename AU380, sits on a heavily re-engineered version of the Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform.
The steel and aluminium structure is said to be lighter and more rigid than the platform used by today’s A3 and includes developments that specially target vibration and noise reduction.
The MQB II platform supports a more advanced electrical architecture that will allow the new A3 to offer a wider range of both mild- and plug-in hybrid drivetrains throughout its planned seven-year life cycle. It has also been brought up to date with digital cockpit functions, internet-based communication features and upcoming 5G-enabled autonomous driving innovations.
The new A3 will initially be produced in five-door hatchback and four-door saloon guise only. Production of UK-bound five-doors will continue to take place at Audi’s Ingolstadt factory in Germany, with four-doors built in its Gyor plant in Hungary.
A three-door hatchback A3 will not make production because of the lack of demand in key markets. That decision also means the A3 Cabriolet will disappear from the new line-up. In their absence, Audi plans to introduce a new high-riding A3 Allroad model with a uniquely styled grille and bumpers as well as wheel-arch cladding and a chassis tuned around all-season tyres. Based on the five-door hatchback, it is expected to challenge the Mercedes GLA from the end of 2021. It will sit underneath the Q3 and soon-to-be-revealed Q3 Sportback SUV coupé in the Audi line-up.
Plans for a new five-door A3 liftback model, as previously reported by Autocar, remain on track, according to sources. However, Autocar understands the Mercedes CLA rival has been delayed until 2021 because of a bottleneck in engineering capacity at Audi.
A sister car to the Seat Leon, Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Golf, the new A3 has grown slightly in all bodystyles. The increase in the wheelbase and track widths translate to a roomier interior and what Audi promises will be class-leading luggage capacity.
Inside, it shares its dashboard styling with that of the second-generation Q3 and will make use of a similar range of connectivity features, including SIM-enabled realtime navigation using mapping from HERE, the former Nokia-owned joint venture now operated by Audi, BMW and Mercedes.
The new Audi will be sold with a choice of turbocharged petrol, diesel and (not for UK) natural gas engines in combination with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. All but the most powerful models will use front-wheel drive, although, in a continuation of today’s model mix, Audi plans a selected number of four-wheel-drive quattro models, including the new A3 Allroad.