Last month in Geneva Audi revealed the new 3-door A3. Not surprisingly, and just as with the last-generation car, there’s little potential for a 3-door configuration in the USA. Further, previous viewpoints on the A3 suggested only the sedan would come to America. Fortunately for fans who prefer something other than four doors, we’re now hearing even that more could be bound for the States.
While in Geneva we spoke at length with Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen and Audi AG board member for Marketing Peter Schwarzenbauer about the car’s stance in America. Here’s some of what we found.
Last year de Nysschen paid a visit to the Fourtitude discussion forums and, at that time, expressed the unlikelihood of the A3 Sportback making it to the States. This was a major cause of concern for Avant friendly enthusiasts and loyal owners of the current car. Chatting privately with de Nysschen in Geneva, he seems to have changed his mind though there’s a twist. Audi of America is currently pushing to bring the Sportback to the American market though as a specialty model only,
de Nysschen did stress that none of this is confirmed nor finalized, but that Audi may use the Sportback body style exclusively for alternative fuel configurations – possibly a hybrid, plug-in hybrid e-tron or even a full electric e-tron… maybe even multiple choices from this mix.
The theory here is simple. A unique body style dedicated to hybrid or alternative fuel drivetrains makes a statement. de Nysschen didn’t reference it but an obvious parallel can be drawn to the Toyota Prius. There’s no mistaking the Prius for any other Toyota and it makes a visual statement. Audi is thinking it may have a similar opportunity in the States with the Sportback. Such a move likely won’t make performance-minded A3 owners happy but it is in intriguing proposition just the same.
The A3 Sportback e-tron you see above is a render that we have created. Fourtitude has no basis for this specific design nor indication that the new Sportback will bear more resemblance to cars like the A7 Sportback and A5 Sportback, but it looks good. Credit to the German Audi blog QARSI.de for creating a similar render (albeit not e-tron) that inspired this one.
More recently we showed this render to a source at Audi who found it interesting. Still, our source indicated that this won’t be what the A3 Sportback looks like. If not then we’re guessing the A3 will remain more on the Avant side and less on the four-door coupe side of the Sportback schema.
Of course it’s already been known that the A3 model most targeted toward the USA is the sedan. American tastes seem to prefer it. Shown as a concept at Geneva in 2011, the production sedan will be key in Audi’s plans for growth in the segment. On the sedan Schwarzenbauer stated that sales would grow 20% or more though de Nysschen was bolder. Audi’s President in America suggested that he thinks the USA can sell 30,000 units in a year, roughly three times the peak years of the current A3 Sportback.
Why so aggressive? de Nysschen was one of the key proponents of the new sedan body style for the new A3 – a push made by both gut instinct and an understanding of the success and significance of the B5 A4, something the American model lineup could use now that the A4 has grown to a size more akin to the C5 A6.
The A3 sedan is also being targeted at China, and we hear this model may see its auto show debut there. Independent of that, the A3 sedan will definitely be built in China for that local market and it’s also a very likely target for manufacture in North America as well.
Rather than basis on the A3 3-door, the next generation A3 Cabriolet will be based more on the sedan configuration and with a pronounced trunk. Sources who’ve seen the car tell us it is a lot more handsome in appearance and de Nysschen confirmed again as he did on our forums last year that he is lobbying for the Cabriolet to come to America.