BMW 1 Series rival drops all camouflage and shows off an unusual design detail ahead of its Geneva motor show debut
Mark Tisshaw
26 September 2019

Audi is building up to the unveiling of one of its biggest sellers, the 2020 A3, and prototypes have now dropped almost all of their disguise.

New spy shots of the car testing show the Ingolstadt brand is following the lead of the platform-sharing Mk8 Volkswagen Golf, which hit the headlines by shedding its camouflage wrap earlier this year.

We can see that the new A3 features an evolutionary look, borrowing the geometric front-end shape from Audi's latest models, and doesn't adopt the smaller A1's bonnet vents. Yet there's one distinctive design detail we weren't expecting: chrome strips running the length of the bodywork on each side from the headlights to the tail-lights, wrapping around the tailgate. 

It's not clear yet if this will make production or if Audi is just experimenting ahead of the finished design. But if it does appear when the car is unveiled, as expected, at next March's Geneva motor show, it will mark a distinct departure from the rest of the firm's range. 

Our Verdict

Audi A3 hero front

Third-gen Audi A3 gets a mild facelift, more equipment, some new engines and a new hot model - but is it the cream of the premium hatch crop?

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

Exterior design boss Andreas Mindt has already promised 'big-time' exterior design changes for Audi's Mercedes-Benz A-Class rival when talking to Autocar earlier this year. 

On the new car, which will be built on the second-generation Volkswagen Group MQB architecture first entering production in the Golf, Mindt said that the company “had some really good ideas” for its new staple hatchback, promising “it’ll change, big time”.

The new A3 is one of two new compact Audis in development, the other being an electric car built on the new MEB architecture. As before, the A3 will spawn a whole range of variants, including a new five-door liftback version to rival the likes of the Mercedes-Benz CLA and upcoming BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé. A disguised S3 hot hatch prototype has also been spotted testing.

Mindt believes that compact cars have a big future still, despite the rise of SUVs. “I can see growth of compact cars and a future, absolutely,” he said. “We have really good ideas for that segment and to push it.”

The five-door hatchback will be the first new A3 to arrive next year, replacing the model that was introduced at the 2012 Geneva motor show. The final variant will be the five-door liftback, which isn’t expected until 2021 – the third year of the fourth-generation A3’s lifespan. The regular hatchback will be longer and wider than the current model, with the same track width but wider wheel arches and carriers. 

Facing fresh competition from the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon, the next A3 Saloon will be introduced in 2020.

The new A3's engine range will include 1.0-litre, 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol units, as well a 2.0-litre TDI diesel unit in three different states of tune. A plug-in hybrid model will also come, using the same driveline as the new Volkswagen Passat GTE. There won't be an electric version, though, because Audi is developing a dedicated electric hatchback model for release in 2021. Until then, the forthcoming Q4 e-tron SUV will be the brand's smallest EV. 

The A3 Cabriolet, a small-seller within the Audi range, is the least certain for replacement, given the state of the convertible market and the discontinuation of C-segment Volkswagen Group products following the axing of the Beetle.

Read more

2020 Audi S3 primed to take on Mercedes-AMG A35

Audi plots A3 liftback coupe to take on Mercedes CLA

Mercedes-Benz A-Class review

Join the debate

Comments
20

28 November 2018
Big time changes - I doubt it.

29 November 2018
Jimbbobw1977 wrote:

Big time changes - I doubt it.

They are going to fit indicators that can be used by the driver to indicate to other drivers their intentions.

Audi, at the forefront of innovation.

26 September 2019
Jimbbobw1977 wrote:

Big time changes - I doubt it.

 

Back to my original quote nearly a year ago... big time changes - I doubt it

29 November 2018

 Heard this before from other brands to, what they’re not prepared to admit is that in this sector Car design has hit the buffers, nobody is producing a step change in design, they’re almost coping each other.

29 November 2018

That looked pretty fresh to me!

29 November 2018
Peter Cavellini wrote:

 Heard this before from other brands to, what they’re not prepared to admit is that in this sector Car design has hit the buffers, nobody is producing a step change in design, they’re almost coping each other.

Totally agree. I blame the Ford Focus, since then every mid-size hatchback has tried to look like this with 3 side windows and a vertical rear. The likes of the i30 fastback and an A3 '4 door coupe' will at least try and do something different.

The 2nd gen A3 with roof rails I thought looked like a mini A4, quite smart, and I'm not an Audi fan.

29 November 2018

If you look on the front page today you'll see it's twin brother the Hyundai .....

29 November 2018

Audi generally maintains a styling theme for each generation of their cars which normally starts with the A4. As the current A3 is from the previous generation of Audis, it's safe to say that the next model will simply adopt styling cues from the current A4, A6, A8 and new A1.

26 September 2019
Saucerer wrote:

Audi generally maintains a styling theme for each generation of their cars which normally starts with the A4. As the current A3 is from the previous generation of Audis, it's safe to say that the next model will simply adopt styling cues from the current A4, A6, A8 and new A1.

Boring predictable cars for boring predictable people.

29 November 2018

I don't see much if the pictures are anything to go by?  

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week