Deep Dive: The 2018 Audi A3 Adds More Body Styles
Audi’s plan calls for more derivatives of the A3.
Ingolstadt, Germany - Some future strategy for the Audi A3 is being redone at corporate headquarters in Ingolstadt. In the cards for the major model changeover for the A3 that is scheduled for 2018 will be a Sportback Allroad crossover, a four-passenger TT concept (which would replace the current A3 three-door hatchback), and even a compact van.
For maximum customer loyalty, chefs must dream up new menus in regular intervals. The car industry is facing similar pressures, as the usual fare of sedan, wagon, and crossover is no longer varied enough. This explains the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer and the BMW 2 Series Grand Tourer, plus the forthcoming introduction of the third-generation Mercedes-Benz B-Class.
Audi has adopted a slightly different menu by positioning the A3 in much the same market position as the Audi Q1 and Q2, not to mention the Audi TT twins. What this tastier selection still lacks is some kind of smart people-mover (a credible replacement for the slow-selling three-door A3 hatchback), as well as a really sporty five-door hatchback.
Of course, a key question is how many additional body styles of the Audi A3 can be marketed at a sensible profit. While the slow-selling three-door model is allegedly doomed, the popular Sportback is bound to evolve. Audi could of course easily create an even roomier A3 Avant wagon, but such a derivative would sell only in Europe, cannibalizing the more profitable A4 Avant to an unpredictable extent. Market research is telling company executives that an Audi A3 Allroad could be a more promising option. No, not a tight three-door package inspired by the 2014 TT-based concept. Instead consider a full-size A3 Sportback Allroad fitted with all the must-have comfort options, plus all-wheel drive with more rugged running gear.
According to the rumor mill, Audi's plan calls for even more derivatives of the Allroad concept, including an A5 Sportback and A7 Sportback. In the long run, we might see even more sedans and wagons configured in the Allroad crossover style.
What exactly is the Audi TTC, you ask? It is a cool and compact four-passenger coupe that is more or less loosely related to the iconic Audi TT. Right now, the TT is available as two-passenger car in either coupe or convertible form. For late 2016, Audi insiders are predicting the introduction of the Audi TTQ crossover, which is a more dynamic and more upmarket evolution of the Audi Q3. For a more distant future, the Audi TTC would be a new, entry-level Audi sports car that could seat four passengers.
The TTC must be roomier, more practical and more affordable than the Audi TT, and more like the Hyundai Veloster or Volkswagen Scirocco. If the sports car market does indeed move toward less pricey products, we might even see an Audi TTR 2+2, even though this would kill off the Audi A3 convertible. Preliminary work on the TTC concept has already begun. At the end of the day, its fate depends primarily on the shape that the next-generation TT will take. In case the fourth-generation front-engine TT due in 2021 steps down half a notch in the Audi product scheme to make room for the Audi R5 mid-engine sports car (powered exclusively by five-cylinder engines), the four-passenger TTC might be a perfectly viable third body style for the TT family.
Meanwhile, the Audi A3 also looks as if it will evolve into a genuine people-mover (see rendering at top). Such a concept was created as the Roadjet show car in 2009, which was meant to compete with the Mercedes-Benz B-Class. Such a vehicle is no longer being considered for Europe, but the Chinese market might require a compact-size people-mover based on the latest MQB modular vehicle architecture. An Audi product planner tells us: "While there is no shortage of upmarket, compact-size four- and five-seaters, we believe that before long every leading premium brand will need a compact-size seven-seater. You see, while the executives always travel in style, the workers must follow in very basic people-movers like the best-selling Wuling Hongguang. Audi is thinking to smooth over this difference in style with a new model not unlike the BMW Gran Tourer."