One of Audi’s prized assets will be renewed this summer in the form of a Mk4 Audi A3, which will see the firm offer two quite different flagship variants.
The fourth-generation A3 family hatch will be available as an improved e-tron-badged plug-in hybrid, while at the opposite end of the scale the brand will also still cater for petrolheads with an RS model tasked with taking down the new 416bhp Mercedes-AMG A 45 in style.
Audi has committed to revealing 12 pure-electric models by 2025, and a car the size of the A3 has already been confirmed as one of those new products. However, it won’t be an all-electric member of the A3 family. The vehicle will be a model in its own right, pitched as a posher alternative to the Volkswagen I.D. hatch and sitting on the VW Group’s new MEB EV platform.
Instead, a return of plug-in hybrid tech will see the next A3 electrified. The previous A3 e-tron was dropped last November as a result of new WLTP emissions rules, but will return to the fold in a big way with the fourth-generation model. It’ll be one of a new generation of VW Group plug-in hybrid models using the next evolution of the MQB platform, which could usher in plug-in hybrids with the battery capacity to unlock more than 40 miles of pure-electric running and claim around 150mpg economy under WLTP rules.
However, we won’t have to wait until the unveiling of the new A3 to learn a lot more about the new technology lurking under the skin. That’s because the Volkswagen Golf hatch is also due for replacement, and the Mk8 version will make its debut this summer, albeit ahead of the new Audi.
The A3, which is previewed in our exclusive images, will borrow a lot of mechanicals from the new Volkswagen, such as the plug-in hybrid powertrain heading the way of the next Golf GTE. But it’ll also share the latest-generation Golf’s line-up of regular petrol engines, many of which will feature 12-volt and 48-volt mild-hybrid systems.
The A3’s appearance will be updated to match the latest Audi family look, while we expect the cabin will feature the 10.1-inch central infotainment unit and Virtual Cockpit digital dash set-up seen in Audi’s Q3 SUV.
But the three-door A3 model looks almost certain to be dropped following poor sales. In 2017, Audi produced 7,818 examples of the three-door A3, while 167,741 five-door A3 Sportbacks rolled off the production line at the brand’s Ingolstadt home in Germany.
We anticipate an A3 Cabriolet will arrive a few years into the new model’s lifespan, despite being a small seller. Another A3 Saloon looks a safe bet, given it’s a strong second to the Sportback with 127,204 cars produced in 2017. Audi could even build on the Saloon by introducing a longer four-door coupé version of the A3, which would take on the new Mercedes CLA. But that’ll have to wait beyond the new model’s on-sale date, which will be early 2020 in the UK.
Are you looking forward to seeing the new Audi A3? Let us know your thoughts below…