UPDATE: New photos of the 2021 Audi A3 have been released, showing the new Sportback in outdoor driving lights and new colours. Our original story continues below.
March 3, 2020: Exactly eight years since its predecessor was first unveiled and four years since its last facelift, the new fourth-generation 2021 Audi A3 Sportback has been unveiled online.
In many ways, the new A3 is evolutionary. Styling is familiar, the platform beneath is a version of the Volkswagen Group's MQB architecture, and power outputs of the launch line-up will surprise few CarAdvice readers.
As with most new Audis, though, the new A3 pushes the game along predictably yet impressively. In our first drive of the new model, the 2021 S3 Sportback five-door hatch showed it will prove formidable when it takes on the new BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class in Australia later this year.
Now properly revealed, we can see just what the new A3 Sportback will offer – in Europe, at least, with local specifications to be confirmed closer to launch.
On the styling front, the new A3 continues and emphasises the hooked headlights that appeared with its 2016 update, wrapping the trademark hexagonal Audi grille.
Lines down the side are likewise emphasised, with a stronger character line that wraps tighter to show off the flared arches at each corner.
The new model measures 4.34 metres long and 1.82 metres wide (mirrors excluded), making it 30mm longer and 35mm wider than the outgoing model. Wheelbase and height are unchanged at 2.64 metres and 1.43 metres, respectively.
Inside, the new 2020 Audi A3 builds on the styling themes laid out with recent offerings, with the main display re-integrated with the dash (doing away with the dashtop tablet look), and vents returning to a more angular look.
That main display is 10.1 inches as standard, and a full digital instrument display behind the steering wheel is also offered out of the box. The regular size has not been confirmed (likely the same 10.25-inch unit featured in the new Golf), but the 'plus' option is listed at 12.3 inches.
Rear storage is listed at 380 litres with the back seats upright and 1200 litres when laid flat.
In Europe, three engines will be offered from launch: a 110kW 1.5-litre petrol unit, and a 2.0-litre diesel in 85kW and 110kW forms.
Front-wheel drive will be standard (quattro all-wheel drive likely to debut later), matched to six-speed manual and seven-speed S tronic (dual-clutch) transmissions. In the case of the latter, the shift lever has been redesigned as a more compact drive-by-wire toggle in the centre console.
Standard suspension is by MacPherson struts up front in all models and a torsion beam design at the rear, while models offering 110kW or more get a multi-link rear.
Adaptive damper control can be optioned, improving handling and comfort while also lowering the ride by 10 millimetres.
Sports suspension is standard in S Line trim, featuring the adaptive damper control system in a tauter tune, and a 15-mm lower ride.
More engines will be announced later, the company says, and fans will be holding out for details on the new-generation S3 and RS3 hero models.
We already know the S3 retains the same turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine used by its predecessor. The carry-over EA888 unit is claimed to produce the same 228kW as before, but with a 20Nm increase in torque at 400Nm.
The new RS3 should be closer to 300kW, driven by a version of its existing 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo petrol engine.
When will the new Audi A3 come to Australia?
Audi has confirmed the new 2020 A3 will arrive "before the end of the year", likely making it a model-year 2021 offering when it lands.
Local details will be revealed closer to launch.