New 2019 Audi A3 spied again in sporty “S” guise

A pair of new fourth generation Audi A3s have been spotted during winter testing, one of which appears to be the latest hot “S” version

A new Audi S3 is on the way to take on the likes of the Mercedes-AMG A 35 – and the hot hatch has been spied for the first time, undergoing tests along with a conventional version.

The new S3 will sit towards the top of the upcoming A3 line-up, which ranges from an improved e-tron-badged plug-in hybrid to a fire-breathing RS model that will square up to the new 416bhp Mercedes-AMG A 45.

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This new Audi S3 mule features a redesigned diffuser, a set of quad exhausts and a slightly reworked rear bumper. However, cosmetic revisions between this hot model and the standard car seem limited for the time being, so it’s possible that this mule is being used merely to test the new model’s powertrain.

As with the current model, we’re expecting the new S3 to feature a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol and four-wheel-drive. Power will likely be increased over the current car’s 296bhp and the top speed will probably remain the same, at a limited 155mph.

Audi will update the A3’s appearance across its line-up to match the rest of the brand’s models, while we expect the cabin to 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.

New 2019 Audi A3: engines

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.

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.

Are you looking forward to seeing the new Audi A3? Let us know your thoughts below…

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