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New Audi A3 still planned: entry-level EV to give affordability edge over BMW and Mercedes

Audi will persevere with its plan for an entry-level electric car to replace the existing Audi A3 at a time when rivals will be exiting that market

Audi remains committed to delivering a smaller, slightly cheaper electric car to sit beneath the Q4 e-tron in its line-up, despite a recent rethink on product plans that saw some models pushed back and others axed altogether.

Detailed by Auto Express last year, Audi’s plan has been to extend its range only slightly downwards, eschewing successors to the A1 supermini and Q2 small crossover, but creating an indirect successor to the recently updated A3 family hatchback. That, in turn, could give the Ingolstadt brand a cheaper entry point than the likes of Mercedes and BMW.

New Audi CEO Gernot Döllner, who has also taken on the role of technical development chief, admits that his team has gone through a review of its future product plans in recent months, sharpening its focus on key markets such as China (where it will soon launch a bespoke, locally made version of its new Q6 e-tron) and the United States. Döllner said that some vehicles had been pushed aside by the review, but insisted that the planned entry point – likely to appear in late 2026 or 2027 – has escaped the axe.

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When asked directly if Audi had cut vehicles from its plans or simply delayed them, Döllner said, “We did both, really. We stretched the timeframe to give us a little bit more time for these 20 models. I’ve never seen something like this in my career so far. And we discussed some models that we deprioritised, and put emphasis on other ideas.”

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Describing the new entry model directly, Döllner said, “It’s A-segment, so typically Golf and A3 size, or a little bit below, perhaps. But this is where we will focus on. We won’t have a successor for the A1 and Q2 – certainly not a direct successor. But in confirming the model below the Q4, in the A-segment, that will be our entry car.”

The choice of architecture for the model remains fluid, with Döllner saying, “The final discussion on platform has not been taken.” But he added that the planned debut for the car could be too early for it to use the VW Group’s forthcoming SSP platform – so it’s likely that the baby Audi will, in fact, be one of the last cars to use the existing MEB technology, or at least the final evolution of it.

New Audi A3 exclusive images

Our exclusive images showing how the new Audi A3 could look use Audi’s 2019 AI:ME concept car, as their base. That car was a little shorter than the A3 overall, but our illustrations show how easily its dimensions could be stretched to deliver a unique, bespoke EV shape, while not stealing too much of the Q4 e-tron’s SUV image, being between five and 10 centimetres shorter than that vehicle.

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Short front and rear overhangs would allow Audi to slot the new model in at the base of its range – although it’s conceivable that it may opt for an even more conventional shape, including a three-box saloon that would also be distinct from the Q4 and potentially popular in large markets like the United States and China.

This new all-electric entry point is likely to mean no combustion-engined successor to the existing A3. The current model was introduced in 2020 and has just received a major facelift, so a typical seven-year lifespan would tip it over into the era when Audi will only launch new electric cars.

Bespoke US-only Audi models

Audi is likely, meanwhile, to develop some bespoke models for the United States, including larger SUVs. Döllner said, “That’s one thinkable option. We have a lot of ideas and what we’ll definitely do, and we have it already in our product strategy right now, is take a deeper look at North America. We’ll have bigger SUVs in consideration and they will be mainly influenced by American market requirements. That’s one reason why we’re so optimistic about our prospects in the US; we know there’s more potential there.”

He stopped short of saying that Audi could tap into the VW Group’s Scout project, an off-road-focused brand of SUVs and pick-up trucks that will be developed and produced in the United States. “The VW Group has made a decision to revitalise the Scout brand and I was honoured to be part of that decision a couple of years ago,” Döllner said. “I was chairman of Scout motors, in fact. This is the decision that has been taken so far – to bring the brand back and have trucks and rugged SUVs, but as Scout.”

Shopping for an EV on a budget? These are the cheapest electric cars...

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Editor-at-large

John started journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing road cars. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

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