Dating back nearly two years in leaked pre-production spy images, Audi has officially unveiled the highly awaited fourth generation A3 online in the wake of its supposed public debut at the now cancelled Geneva Motor Show.
The first A3 to be marketed exclusively as a five-door, Sportback in Audi speak, with both the three-door and cabriolet having fallen by the wayside and the future of sedan being unknown, the newcomer joins its siblings, the Seat Leon and Volkswagen Golf in riding on the MQB Evo platform with dimensions of 4.34 m in overall length, a wheelbase of 2.64 m, height of 1.43 m and width of 1.82 m.
Externally, the latest A3 represents a noteworthy departure from its predecessor with the debut of a new L-shaped headlight design that comes fitted with pixel LEDs as part of the Matrix setup. Offsetting the trademark Singleframe grille, the air intakes on the flanks of the bumper are wider and the rear facia a nod to not only the A1, but also the Q3.
It is all-new inside as well as with the overall design and layout being similar to that of the Q8. Depending on the trim level, the A3 can be equipped with the new 10.1-inch MMI Plus navigation infotainment system incorporating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster, colour Heads-Up Display, a new multi-function steering wheel and smartphone charger, plus a selection of material trim options.
As with the Golf, the Sportback not only comes with Car-2-X functionality, but also voice recognition, LTE Wi-Fi hotspots and smartphone pairing thanks to the myAudi app. Away from the digital side, buyers can opt for a 680-watt 15-speaker 3D Bang & Olufsen surround sound system from the options list.
Measuring just over three centimetres longer than its predecessor, boot space in the Sportback is rated at 380-litres, though with the rear seats down, capacity increase to 1 300-litres. Aiding entry to the boot, albeit as an option, is a kick-motion activated electric tailgate.
Once again depending on the trim level, safety and driver assistance tech consists of Audi Pre-Sense with Collision Avoidance Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control with Traffic Jam Assist, Park Assist, a surround view camera system, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Change Assist with Exit Warning, Blind Spot Assist and Auto High Beam Assist.
Underneath its new attire, the A3 boasts a recalibrated electronic stabilisation program, Adaptive Damping that lowers the ride height by 10 mm, a new speed-sensitive electro-mechanical power steering configuration, a multi-link rear axle with separate springs and dampers on higher-end models and an electronic brake booster that is said to reduce wear and improve braking performance.
Model-wise, the A3 Sportback will go on sale in Germany with a choice of five trim levels; Technik, Sport, S line, the Edition 1 launch model and the flagship Vorsprung with power, initially, coming from a single TFSI and TDI engine.
Displacing 1.5-litres, the 35 TFSI produces 110 kW and comes paired to a six-speed manual gearbox only while the venerable 2.0-litre oil-burner in the 35 TDI comes in two states of tune 85 kW and 110 kW and is paired solely to a seven-speed S tronic. Later on, a mild-hybrid model, featuring the same 1.5-litre unit backed-up by a 48-volt system as the Golf, will be introduced along with all-wheel-drive quattro equipped derivatives.
In its home market, pricing for the A3 Sportback kicks-off at €24 900 (R429 760) for the 35 TFSI Technik and ends at €43 040 (R742 846) for the 35 TDI Vorsprung S tronic. Delivers will commence in April with South African availability still to be confirmed.