Both the saloon and Sportback variants have arrived on the market at the same time, despite staggered unveilings. The saloon is available in four trim levels, while the Sportback gains an additional Technik entry-level trim, which comes equipped with 16in alloy wheels, LED headlights, Audi's new MMI infotainment system and a 10.25in virtual cockpit as standard.
Sport trim, priced from £26,175, adds electric mirrors, dual-zone climate control, 17in alloy wheels and LED daytime running lights, while the second-from-top S Line package gains privacy glass, sports seats, LED interior lighting and 18in alloys. Vorsprung trim heads up the range from £39,075, bringing with it matrix headlights, a black-themed styling pack, a Bang & Olufsen sound system and additional driver safety aids.
The tried-and-tested styling of Audi’s best-selling model in Europe remains, although the company has tried to make it look sportier to address the absence of a three-door model, which was culled during the previous generation.
Audi’s new A3 has a nearly identical footprint to its predecessor, at 4.34m long and 1.43m high, but is 3cm wider, at 1.82m, giving more elbow and shoulder room for passengers.
The model receives digital daytime-running lights for the first time, made up of 15 LEDs, allowing each trim derivative to have an individual light signature to set them apart.
The engine line-up at launch is a 148bhp 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol unit (TFSI) and a 2.0-litre diesel (TDI) with 114bhp or 148bhp. Soon after, a 108bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder TFSI will launch alongside the most notable unit: a second version of the 1.5 TFSI with mild-hybrid technology. This will mark the first time the A3 has been offered as a mild hybrid, although a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid (PHEV) entered production in 2014. Two PHEV variants of the new model will go on sale at a later date.
The mild-hybrid A3 uses a belt-driven starter-alternator to feed a 48V system that can recuperate 16bhp during deceleration and gentle braking. It can also glide with its engine off for up to 40 seconds. There are no official plans to add this tech to other engines in the A3, but powertrain engineer Michael Vogl said that it could be integrated into almost any powertrain.
“This system helps us to achieve our goals and helps our customers to save fuel,” said Vogl. “There are low cost increases and low weight increases but an improvement of 10% in consumption.”
Following the first wave of engines, further TDI and TFSI options will arrive, including some with Audi’s quattro four-wheel drive system.