Saloon model will be added to hatchback, sportback and cabriolet body styles
4 May 2009

These are the first rendered images of the new Audi A3, including the new saloon model that has been conceived to help sales in North America.

The new Audi A3 will go on sale in early 2011 and the saloon model will sit alongside the hatchback, sportback and cabriolet body styles.

Click here to read about details of plans for a hybrid Audi A3

Click here to read about Audi's hot RS3

“We’ve taken a good look at what it will take to better establish the A3 in the US market in the future,” said an Audi insider. “The four-door layout is something North American car buyers continue to seek, especially from a premium brand such as Audi.”

The decision to add a saloon to the A3 line-up makes good sense, because the four-door version of the A4 has grown appreciably in size over the years. Since its launch in 1994 it has put on 320mm in length, 90mm in width and 15mm in height - essentially taking it up a class.

The A3 saloon will be a similar size to the Volkswagen Jetta, at around 4550mm long. Unlike the relatively upright and conservatively detailed Jetta, though, the A3 is expected to have a contemporary, coupé-like profile with a heavily rounded roofline. Boot capacity should be in the region of 500 litres - 130 litres more than today’s A3 Sportback.

Underpinning the new A3 will be a new platform, one generation beyond today’s PQ35 Golf chassis. It will also be used across two size classes and four brands — Audi, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen — to produce up to three million cars per year.

The suspension will retain a combination of MacPherson struts at the front and a four-link arrangement at the rear, but expect developments such as adaptive damping to find their way into the new model.

The next A3 won’t introduce any radical styling changes, sticking to the formula that has helped it to outsell the BMW 1-series and Mercedes-Benz A-class in the UK.

Audi design boss Wolfgang Egger is said to have chosen a slightly edgier appearance with tauter surfacing for the new car, in keeping with recent styling trends out of Ingolstadt.

“Expect a more distinctive look, but one that has clear links to the existing A3,” was how one Audi source described the car’s new design direction.

Audi will kick off the revised A3 range with a new turbocharged 1.2-litre TFSI engine. Its 105bhp is slightly higher than the output of today’s entry-level normally aspirated petrol 1.6, with 15 per cent better fuel economy.

Further up the range there will be 140bhp 1.4, 170bhp 1.8 and 210bhp 2.0 TFSI units. The next S3 quattro will stick with a 2.0 turbo, but with a 15bhp increase in power to 280bhp.

At the other end of the scale will be a frugal 1.6 TDI, with a new 105bhp 1.6-litre diesel and automatic stop-start. The most fuel efficient of Audi’s future A3 models will be good for 75mpg and less than 100g/km of CO2. Other diesel engines will include a 2.0-litre unit with 140bhp and, in a higher state of tune, 170bhp. Audi is also working on a twin-turbocharged version of this engine, claimed to match the output of BMW’s twin-turbo 2.0-litre four, as used in the 123d, with 204bhp.

Regular A3 models will once again be front-wheel drive, while selected models will offer four-wheel drive as an option, but it will be a multi-plate clutch system rather than Audi’s traditional torsen set-up.

In addition to the standard six-speed manual gearbox there will be an optional seven-speed dual-clutch ’box. Today’s dry-sump DQ250 unit will be mated to lower-end engines, while a new DQ400 ’box will be used with more powerful engines.

Greg Kable

Our Verdict

Audi A3

Third generation Audi A3 has been given a mild facelift, more equipment, some new engines, a new hot model, but is the three-door version the cream of the premium hatch crop?

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