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Audi to target Mercedes CLA with sharp new A3 Coupe

New Audi A3 Coupe to take range up a class, and exclusive images show look of the A5 Sportback’s baby brother

Audi is readying its all-new A3 family car range, with the next hatchback, Sportback and Saloon set to be joined by a sleek new four-door Coupe. The line-up should be complete by the end of the decade, with the new addition giving Audi a direct competitor to the Mercedes CLA.

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The move is aimed at shifting some of Audi’s compact models up a segment into the executive class – where the A4 saloon competes – without a dramatic price hike. Mercedes has enjoyed huge success with this strategy, filling niche segments in its compact cars range – with models such as the CLA and CLA Shooting Brake – which helped it become the world’s most successful premium car brand last year. The addition of a new A3 variant will also help Audi hit its target of having 60 individual models on sale by 2020.

Our exclusive images show how Audi’s A3 four-door Coupe could look. In a bid to keep the A3’s appeal broad, visual tweaks over the current model will be modest.

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While the new model will still clearly resemble an A3 from the front, a refreshed face gives it a bolder design. A new grille will make it look wider and sportier, and new LED lights and reshaped bumpers will round off the changes at the front. 

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On the Coupe, the bulk of updates will be more evident from the rear. Slim tail-lights and a new bumper design will feature, but the elongated, plunging roofline will clearly mark it out in the range. The finished product should bear a close resemblance to the TT Sportback Audi revealed at the Paris Motor Show back in 2014.

First to arrive, however, will be the standard A3 hatchback in 2019. This will remain on the same MQB chassis as the current model, but it is set to grow slightly, allowing for more space inside – and that also means a bigger boot. The interior will get a big update, with some cutting-edge tech taken from the upcoming new A8 – the car that will lay out the brand’s next few years of advanced equipment.

Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system will be updated for the next-generation A3, but it’s futuristic tech such as autonomous driving modes that will be the headline features. Expect to see some form of self-driving mode, as well as better-integrated Internet connectivity. Electrification will also play an important role in the new A3, as Audi seeks to escape the Dieselgate associations of the VW Group TDI units in the current car (although diesel engines will continue to be offered in the new model).

The A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid will also return, but it’s also possible that we’ll see a pure-electric version of the hatchback. As with the current generation, the option of either six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG auto gearboxes with quattro four-wheel drive will be available. Most models will be front-wheel drive only, which helps save weight and improves on economy.

Would you buy an Audi A3 Coupe? Let us know below...

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