by Jared Rosenholtz
Following the reveal of the Sportback model, the 2021 Audi A3 Sedan has just been unveiled. As expected, the sedan shares much of its design with the hatchback except at the back, where the former obviously has a trunk rather than a hatch. This new A3 is a little bit longer than the car it replaces, yielding more interior space. It also has newer technology and some improvements under the hood. When it goes on sale in late 2020, the A3 will jump into battle with other sub-compact luxury sedans from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Does it have the goods to stack up against the competition?
To say the new A3's styling is a complete departure from the last model would be an overstatement but Audi has certainly dialed up the aggression here. The LED trapezoidal headlights are angrier and now flank a more intricate Singleframe honeycomb grille. In the rear, the taillight design looks far more complex, giving the impression that the car is ready to accelerate away from annoying tailgaters in a hurry. Then there are the wheels, which feature a five-spoke blade design that is far more stylized than the last-generation car. The more aggressive design is welcomed and will be needed to compete with its German rivals.
Crucially, Audi hasn't ruined the A3 in its transition from a hatchback to a sedan, which is more difficult than you'd think. Both the BMW 2 Series and Mercedes A-Class look far more natural as hatchbacks but Audi, on the surface, has done a better job of designing the A3 to suit both body styles from the get-go.
The last A3 debuted some of Audi's best technology at the time but started to feel outclassed by its newer competitors. With this all-new model, Audi has once again granted its best technology to its smallest car in the US. The pop-up screen is gone, replaced by a 10.1-inch touchscreen display in the console. Of course, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard while built-in navigation is optional. Audi's Virtual Cockpit is now a standard feature housed on a 10.3-inch screen in the gauge cluster and a larger 12.3-inch cluster with a HUD is also available. The A3's rivals also include dual-screen setups in their cars as well but we think the Audi treads a fine line between the minimalist design of the BMW and the flashy look of the Mercedes.
Audi did not reveal the A3's US engine options but it is safe to assume the European model's 1.5-liter three-cylinder and 2.0-liter diesel engines won't be coming stateside. The most likely engine choice should be a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, producing around 245 horsepower. If this sounds familiar, that's because it is the same engine used in the Volkswagen Golf GTI. The last Audi A3 used the same engine as the US GTI and we don't expect this model to be any different.
If the A3 does indeed pack 245 hp, it will be more powerful than the BMW 228i (228 hp), Mercedes A220 (188 hp), and Mercedes CLA 250 (221 hp). In the future, Audi will release a more powerful S3 version to rival the BMW M235i and the Mercedes A35 and CLA 35 as well as an RS3 model to rival the Mercedes CLA 45.
Audi still has yet to reveal pricing for the 2021 A3, so we will have to move forward assuming it will be close to the outgoing car's starting MSRP of $33,300. If Audi is able to keep the new A3 relatively close to the outgoing price, it will undercut the BMW 228i ($35,300) but will be more expensive than the Mercedes A220 ($32,800). Even so, we expect the A3 to come better equipped than the base A220 and the prices to sit extremely close in most configurations. The choice between these three will mainly come down to styling, engines, interior design, technology, and brand preference.