The fourth-generation Audi A3 has arrived with some significant changes.
Spy shots have already shown that Audi has been working on a redesign for the compact A3 to rival the Mercedes A-Class, and now the covers have finally come off: say hello to the 2021 Audi A3 Sportback. Audi isn't ready to show the sedan version that will go on sale in America yet, but the new Sportback gives us a clear idea of what to expect - and there are some significant changes, including updated styling and a more premium interior.
Visually, the new Audi A3 Sportback's exterior has been given an evolutionary update to match the design language of Audi's current models, with a wider Singleframe and large air inlets at the front, while the shoulder of the body extends in a smooth line from the headlights to the rear lights. The surface below is also curved inward to put a stronger emphasis on the wheel arches, and Audi has added digital daytime running lights incorporating 15 LEDs.
Measuring 14.2 feet long and six feet wide without the mirrors, the 2021 Audi A3 is 1.2 inches longer than its predecessor, while the height (4.7 feet) and wheelbase (8.7 feet) is unchanged. Depending on the position of the rear bench seat, the luggage compartment holds between 13.4 cu ft and 42.4 cu ft. An electric tailgate is also available.
The changes continue inside as Audi has added a new shifter, aluminum or carbon inlays, striking door openers and an instrument panel with a black-panel look. For the first time, the seat upholstery is made of recycled PET bottles and adorned with contrasting stitching.
The driver-focused cockpit is also equipped with technology you would expect to find in the Audi A3's full-size siblings. A 10.1-inch touch display is offered as standard, which is integrated into the center of the instrument panel. This recognizes letters entered by hand, provides acoustic feedback, and can be controlled with voice commands.
There's also a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster as standard, which is operated with the multifunction steering wheel, while Audi's virtual cockpit offers additional functions such as a large display of the navigation map. The digital cluster can also be upgraded to the 12.3-inch plus version, which offers three different views including graphics with a sporty look. A head-up display can also be installed.
Audi's MMI infotainment system is powered by a new third-generation platform that's ten times more powerful than its predecessor. Individual settings can be stored in up to six user profiles including the climate control, seat position, frequently selected navigation destinations, and frequently used media. There's also support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa support will be added shortly after the new A3 launches.
In Europe, the 2021 Audi A3 will launch with three engine options: a 1.5-liter TFSI gasoline engine with 150 hp and a 2.0-liter TDI diesel that delivers 116 hp or 150 hp. Front-wheel drive will only be offered initially, but Quattro AWD models will join the lineup at a later date. Power is sent through a six-speed manual transmission or a quick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, which now has a compact shifter. Electrified engine options will be added after the 2021 Audi A3 launches.
An optional adaptive damper control for the suspension lowers the ride height by 0.4 inches. Each damper permanently adapts to the road condition, the driving situation and the settings in the Audi drive select dynamic handling system to improve the car's comfort and agility. Sport suspension, which is optional or standard with the S line, brings the 2021 Audi A3 Sportback 0.6 inches closer to the ground.
Standard safety tech for the new Audi A3 Sportback includes pre sense front, swerve assist and lane departure warning. Lane change and exit warnings, cross-traffic, and park assist systems are also optionally available, as is Audi's adaptive cruise assist that is normally reserved for full-size models.
Customer deliveries for the 2021 Audi A3 Sportback will start in May, with pricing starting at 28,900 euros ($32,117). Now that the regular Audi A3 has broken cover, the sportier Audi S3 and Audi RS3 models should join the lineup in the next few months along with America's new A3 sedan.