There’s a brand-new Audi A3 Sportback on its way to South Africa. The newcomer is taking a high-tech approach to stand out from the Volkswagen Golf 8 … and keep ahead of the BMW 1 Series and the Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

With an infusion of the connected technology and a more compelling style, Audi’s A3 hatchback is entering its fourth generation. The new A3 Sportback measures 4340 mm and is 30 mm longer than its predecessor while the wheelbase and height remain unchanged.

The fourth generation A3 Sportback is scheduled to arrive in South Africa early in 2021. Audi hopes that its premium 5-door offering will strengthen its position on the hatchback tree of the Volkswagen Group, as well as the challenges of its much-vaunted BMW and Mercedes-Benz rivals. Other body styles will be unveiled in time, but for now, the new A3 is only available in 5-door configuration.

The A3 makes the interior change more radical, with a wider and more central infotainment system and Lamborghini-like air vents protruding over the dash top. However, what is most noteworthy is that the current MMI operating system has ten times greater processing capacity than its predecessor. In addition to a beefed-up navigation system with high-resolution images from Google Earth, the system also provides car-to-infrastructure (in Europe) services that allow the vehicle to communicate with traffic lights and find parking spots. Customers will also be able to lock and unlock the car through their Android phone or Amazon Alexa, as well as start the engine.

In terms of dimension, the A3 Sportback is now a little bigger than its predecessor, but not very visible. Owing to the form of the current bumper designs at both ends it is longer by 30 mm. Audi’s newest is 18 mm wider including the mirrors and the track width on both axles has been raised by 11 mm, the consequence of which we will come back.

The look is fresher and has a couple of more curves than previous A3 iterations. It is clear that Audi is trying to dissect its conservative reputation and the designers of the Ingolstadt-based brand have done a good job here, despite the caliber of competition faced by the A3 Sportback. While it is still identifiable as an A3 instantly, most observers will be able to clearly distinguish between the old model and the new.

When it comes to suspension, consumers have a few options to play with, with adjustable damping and a 10 mm lower sport suspension system as options. However, if you want the multi-link rear axle as smaller engine derivatives ship with a simple torsional brace, you’ll have to opt for one of the 110kW or more engines.

I cannot wait to see this beast in person!

By Noni Nchwe