Audi has debuted the fourth-generation A3 Sportback online, following the cancellation of the 2020 Geneva motor show.
The new-generation hatch is in many respects an evolutionary step over its predecessor. It is just 30mm longer and 35mm wider than the outgoing model – with wheelbase and height carrying over unchanged – and rides on a tweaked version of the familiar Volkswagen Group MQB modular platform.
Styling is equally conservative, though it adopts a full gamut of modern Audi design cues including a single-piece, hexagonal grille, sharp LED headlights and taillights and, surprisingly, stronger body lines and a quartet of wildly flared arches that give the car a chunk more character than its flat-sided predecessor.
Wheel sizes ranging from 16 to 19-inches will be available, depending on trim level.
Inside, the family similarities continue, with the A3’s cabin heavily inspired by the latest A1 and Q3. Integrated in the centre of the dashboard is a 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen with satellite navigation and smartphone mirroring, while the instrument cluster is now all-digital as standard and is available with displays up to 12.3 inches in size.
The climate controls take the form of a physical panel of hard buttons below the infotainment display, while automatic models get a stubby switch in favour of a traditional gear lever, just like its VW Group stablemates.
Boot space is rated at 380 litres with all seats in place, or 1200 litres with the second row folded down.
The range of engine choices under the bonnet will be of no surprise to the seasoned VAG enthusiast. The European launch lineup is set to consist of one petrol – a 110kW/250Nm 1.5-litre turbo four-cylinder badged ’35 TFSI’ – and two diesels, namely 85kW/300Nm ’30 TDI’ and 110kW/350Nm ’35 TDI’ tunes of a redesigned 2.0-litre turbo-four.
Front-wheel-drive will be the sole option from launch – with quattro all-wheel-drive to come later – while transmission choices consist of a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Automatic-equipped versions of the 1.5-litre petrol benefit from 48-volt mild-hybrid assistance, like the related Golf, Octavia and Leon.
Independent rear suspension will remain exclusive to models with 110kW and over, while adaptive dampers and sport suspension – the latter fitted as standard on S Line cars – can be optioned to lower the ride height by 10mm and 15mm respectively.
Sportier versions are expected to follow in the coming months, namely a 228kW/400Nm, M135i-rivalling S3 and the full-fat, 294kW five-cylinder RS3. Plug-in hybrid versions are also slated to join the lineup, likely with the same 150kW/180kW 1.4-litre turbo and 13kWh lithium-ion battery combinations as the A3’s siblings from within the Group.
The first 2020 Audi A3 Sportbacks are scheduled to hit customer driveways in Europe in May, ahead of an Australian launch “before the end of the year”.