The chairman of Audi’s board of management, Bram Schott, has granted production approval to the new fourth-generation A3, ahead of its introduction in international markets in early 2020. However, it will be another year before sporty variants of the new A3 – including the RS3 hot-hatch with a new mild-hybrid drivetrain and revised electro-hydraulic four-wheel-drive system – join the line-up.
Due to the fallout from the diesel emissions scandal and Audi’s decision to prioritise development of its pure-electric e-tron models, the introduction of the new A3 has been delayed by more than a year. Although, the new fourth-generation A3 has been heavily reworked in a move that, a senior Audi official has suggested to our sister publication Autocar UK, will make it the most advanced car in its class and a new benchmark in terms of refinement.
Coming to the appearance, the new A3 will sport a bold new look that will be more in keeping with the design of the current A1 hatchback and higher-riding Q3. The upcoming A3 hatchback, internally known as the 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 the current 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.
Initially, the new A3 will only be offered as either a five-door hatchback or a four-door sedan. Audi won’t produce a three-door hatchback version of the new A3 due to the lack of demand for it in key markets. This decision also implies that the A3 Cabriolet, which is currently available in the Indian market, will disappear from the new line-up. Instead of these models, Audi plans to introduce a new high-riding A3 Allroad model with a uniquely styled grille, new 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 rival the Mercedes GLA from the end of 2021. It will sit below the Q3 and soon-to-be-revealed Q3 Sportback SUV coupé in the Audi’s international line-up.
Plans for a new five-door A3 liftback model, as previously reported by Autocar UK, also remain on track, according to sources. However, the sources also state that the Mercedes CLA rival has been delayed until 2021 because of a bottleneck in engineering capacity at Audi.
Dimension wise, the new A3 will grow slightly in all body styles. The increase in the wheelbase and track widths should translate to a roomier interior and what Audi promises will be class-leading luggage capacity.
On the inside, the A3 will 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 real-time navigation.
In terms of powertrains, the new Audi will be offered with a choice of turbocharged petrol, diesel and CNG engines that will be paired with either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. All but the most powerful models will use a front-wheel-drive layout, although, in a continuation of the current model mix, Audi plans a selected number of four-wheel-drive quattro models, including the new A3 Allroad.
The petrol engines will include a 130hp and a 150hp version of the VW Group’s turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder unit, along with a 190hp version of Audi’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit. Both the petrol engines will feature a 48V electric architecture and electric boosting, as part of developments to increase overall efficiency.
A successor to the petrol-electric plug-in hybrid A3 e-tron is being developed, though it won’t be available from the get-go. Autocar UK has been told that it will have battery technology borrowed from the e-tron SUV for an increased electric range.
Despite big investments in the development of its electric-powered e-tron models, Audi says it continues to see strong demand for diesels within the A3 line-up in the short to medium term. The new model is slated to be sold with up to three versions of VW’s Euro 6d-Temp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel, with outputs of between 136hp and 204hp. Audi insiders suggest all diesel variants of the new A3 will receive a 12V electric system and starter/generator, reducing fuel consumption by around 10 percent.
Also planned for 2020 are four-wheel-drive successors to the S3 and RS3. The S3 will continue to utilise a powered-up version of the current car’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine producing up to 330hp.The same engine is also reported to replace the existing 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo-petrol unit in the current RS3, where it is rumoured to develop 408hp, with an additional 15hp from the starter motor taking combined output of 423hp. However, this is denied by Audi, which confirms the 2.5 will continue to be produced.
Among the developments destined for the RS3 is a reworked multi-plate clutch four-wheel-drive system that is claimed to provide it with a similar rear-wheel-drive drift mode function as the Ford Focus RS and new A45. Audi has placed significant emphasis on the handling of the A3 in an attempt to set it apart from other MQB-based VW Group models.
Audi sells the A3 sedan and A3 Cabriolet body styles in India, and to commemorate 5 years of the nameplate in India, the carmaker slashed prices by up to Rs 5 lakh. The next-gen Audi A3 should go on sale in the country by late 2020.
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