The next Audi A3, the company's smallest offering in North America, will be a restyled and improved version of the A3 five-door hatchback that's been on the market here since 2006 with only running changes. And, if the rumors are true, the company will offer a four-door sedan version of the A3 for the first time in this market, in addition to a three-door coupe and a soft-top convertible about the same size as the VW Eos.
We're guessing the next A3 will go on sale early to mid 2012, possibly as a 2013 model.
The current Audi A3 shares its chassis, suspension, and other underpinnings with the VW Golf, and that sharing will extend to much of the drivetrain. Both cars are to be built on the company's new modular transverse-engine platform, but the new small Audi is expected to stretch that platform out a bit in terms of, wheelbase, overall length and overall width, to make a small car slightly more appealing to us larger Americans.
As always, the A3 will offer budget buyers a front-wheel-drive version, and a more expensive quattro all-wheel-drive version.
The engine lineup will start with a direct-injection, four-valve turbocharged 2.0-liter that is one of the best engines of its size offered anywhere in the world. The mainstay engine for the sedan and hatchback will be joined by the 2.0-liter TDI or turbocharged direct-injection diesel, with both manual and dual-clutch automatic transmissions, the latter with 7 or more speeds built into it.
There are persistent rumors that an S3 high-performance coupe version of the new A3 will come along as a 2013 model, sporting even more radical design and a rumored 1.5-liter 5-cylinder turbo engine that could produce between 350 and 400 horsepower in a small, nimble coupe package.
As the smallest and lightest of all the Audi offerings, the new A3 would be an ideal candidate for either a hybrid powertrain or a pure electric powertrain within two years after its U.S. market launch.
The new A3 is expected to add a number of design, safety and convenience features that weren't available when the current car came onto the market, including front and rear LED lamps, lane-departure warning,, blind-spot detection, active cruise control, and forward and rearward facing cameras, with voice activation for navigation and telephoning. Like all Audis, the A3 will have most of its controls operated from the Man-Machine Interface or MMI controller on the center console.
The new A3 will compete in the marketplace against the BMW 1-Series, 4-cylinder versions of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and the new baby Lexus and Cadillac models coming in 2012-2013.