What is it?
After 24 years, three model generations and roughly 600,000 UK sales, the Audi A3 Sportback, as it has come to be known, has become a pretty recognisable sight here in Britain.
Now the car that arguably kick-started the posh family hatchback class has entered its fourth generation, bringing with it a mildly revised exterior, a heavily updated interior and a raft of new safety and connectivity features to help give it an edge over its arch-rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Audi has elected to initially launch the new A3 with a choice of two engines: a 148bhp 1.5-litre turbo petrol four-pot badged 35 TFSI and the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel named 35 TDI that's tested here. Both are front-driven, but where the petrol makes use of a six-speed manual gearbox to direct its power to the road, the diesel is mated exclusively to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
The engine line-up will become more comprehensive in the coming months, when a few more petrol and diesel options are thrown in the mix, while a new mild-hybrid petrol and S3 and RS3 performance models are all set to make an appearance by the end of the year. As is the current vogue, there will be a couple of plug-in hybrids launched, too.
Like all of its relations in the wider Volkswagen Group family, the A3 is based upon an evolved version of the MQB platform. It’s fractionally bigger than before, with this increase in size largely being a result of the need to house all the extra active safety systems that Audi has crammed beneath is angular, more assertive exterior.
These include automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and collision avoidance steering assistance, which are all standard even on entry-level Technik trim.
Up front, the new A3 employs a MacPherson strut-type suspension configuration, while the rear is dependent on engine choice. Similar to its Volkswagen Group relatives, the A3 benefits from a more sophisticated multi-link arrangement when producing 148bhp or more, while variants with less make do with a basic torsion beam. Our car had the former.