The A3 Sportback five-door has just been revealed in Europe, and is confirmed for Australia in 2013, but now comes news of a radical departure for the sedan.
Audi is taking the car upmarket and picking up the plan from the good looking, bright red concept car it displayed at the Geneva motor show in 2011. "The new sedan is giving a very strong, powerful entrant into the US market," says Josef Schossmacher, of Audi marketing, at the Paris motor show.
He says Audi is taking a new direction for the A3, because of the arrival of the baby A1. The smaller car has already sounded the end for a three-door A3 in Australia, because of competition from the A1, although the A3 family will still be expanded with an S3 and the sedan. "The A3 three-door was once the basic model to have a first Audi. But now you have the A1 and the Q3," says Schossmacher.
He believes the change means more opportunity for an A3 sedan that steps up and away from youthful hatches. "The A3 was a very successful project. But it's the third generation now. So it's better to have an evolutionary design than to make a revolution. "With the limousine it will be different. It will be the first A3 sedan. Like a study from Geneva show last year."
Schossmacher says the four-door will benefit from a technology and quality lift that is helped by switching to the MQB mechanical package, which means more flexibility but a reduction in the cost of hidden components. "Now, what you see and what you feel is Audi. It is all specified for Audi. Even the indicators are different. The next relative in terms of quality to the A3 is the A6."
Nothing is firm on an A3 sedan for Australia, particularly as there is no public production plan, but it is a potential starter down under. "We'll definitely look at it. There could be some potential in the car," says Shaun Cleary, spokesman for Audi Australia.