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by Tim Beissmann

The Audi A3 sedan has been spied undergoing cold-weather testing in Scandinavia ahead of the all-new compact four-door’s anticipated unveiling later this year.

Previewed in concept form two years ago at the 2011 Geneva motor show, the A3 sedan appears here wearing production body panels beneath a camouflage wrap, giving us our best look yet at the design of the new derivative of the premium German small car.

Like the third-generation Audi A3 hatch variants, the A3 sedan will be underpinned by the Volkswagen Group’s versatile MQB platform, which it will share with the new-generation Volkswagen Golf and Skoda Octavia, as well as around 40 other VW Group models by 2018.

The Audi A3 sedan promises to offer more space for passengers and cargo than its hatchback siblings. The 2011 A3 sedan concept measured 4440mm long, 1840mm wide and 1390mm tall, making it 130mm longer, 60mm wider and 35mm lower than the new A3 Sportback, while the concept’s 410-litre boot was 30 litres larger than the hatchback’s.

The spy images confirm the A3 sedan will closely mirror the styling of the concept, with the prototype sporting sleek headlights, a prominent hexagonal grille, heavily raked rear windscreen, short boot lid and LED-infused rectangular tail-lights.

With its overseas launch scheduled for the final months of this year, the Audi A3 sedan is expected to arrive in Australian showrooms sometime in 2014. The five-door A3 Sportback will go on sale locally during the second quarter of this year.

The Audi A3 sedan will go head to head with the all-new Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class – the German manufacturer’s new A-Class-based ‘four-door coupe’ that debuted at last week’s Detroit auto show and is set to reach Australian showrooms in the fourth quarter of 2013.