Whether you gauge it as the Audi A3 sedan gaining a hatch or the A3 three-door hatchback gaining two more doors, Audi previewed the A3 five-door hatchback (dubbed the Sportback) a week before the car's Paris Motor Show debut.
Fans of the new Audi A3 three-door hatch will instantly recognize the new car. It shares the A3's major exterior features, like the three-quarter-wraparound LED running lights inside the svelte headlight housings (on both sedan and three-door), and the thick, angled C-pillar (which becomes a D-pillar in the five-door version, for obvious reasons) of the three-door A3.
While the look isn't wildly revolutionary on the outside, the Audi A3's raison d'etre has lately been under-skin engineering and interior technology. The A3 (in all forms) sits atop the VW Group's revolutionary MQB platform, and ensures more torsional rigidity and less weight than before. European A3 Sportback models share the same slate of engines as the three-door and sedans, which include 1.2-, 1.4-, and 1.8-liter turbo- and supercharged four-cylinder gas engines, and 1.6- and 2.0-liter turbo-diesel I-4s. Gas mileage ranges from 42 mpg (the 1.8-liter TFSI) to 62 mpg (1.6-liter TDI) on the UK combined cycle.
On the inside, the car's infotainment has been overhauled, moving from a crude, older MMI system to the next generation of MMI Touch, which uses an Nvidia Tegra 2 microprocessor to generate 3D graphics, which are shown on the retractable 5.8- or 7-inch diagonal LCD monitor. As we reported before, MMI Touch now moves the famous touchpad from a separate housing to the top of the rotary knob controller.
As for the hatchback's interior improvements on the other body styles, Audi says it lengthened the wheelbase of the Sportback some 2.28 inches, which paid dividends for rear seat passengers. With the rear seats up the Audi A3 boasts 13.42 cubic feet of storage; with the seats folded that number increases to 43.1 cubic feet.
The Sportback will take the stage at the Paris Motor Show next week and will reach customers by March of next year, at a starting cost of $32,120 in England. The big question, however, is if the A3 five-door will ever see our shores. The Audi A3 is currently only available in the States with a hatchback, but the new model's sedan bodystyle was specifically designed for the sedan-hungry U.S. Audi says that the decision has not yet been made on bringing the Sportback here, so we'll have to wait and see (and cross our fingers) for now.