The Audi A3 is one of those cars that, despite its inherent goodness, hasn't ever really caught on in the U.S. Maybe it's the high price, or the fact that it doesn't offer much more performance than a Volkswagen Golf, which shares the underpinnings. Then there's the hatchback-only shape, which is often a non-starter in the U.S.
Audi is prepared to address the latter two problems at least with the next-generation Audi A3, as evidenced by the sketch and specs released today on the A3 Concept to be shown at the upcoming Geneva show. First there's the body style. While today's A3 is a sporty five-door hatchback, the concept is a four-seat, four-door notchback. Okay, if the old A3 was an overpriced Golf, then this one is a sure-to-be-overpriced Jetta, right? No, not really. A Jetta wishes it looked this good. Picking up on Audi's latest styling cues, the sketch looks a lot more like a miniaturized A8 than anything made by Volkswagen. And this is, as they say, a good thing.
Then there's performance. Under the hood of the concept s a 408-horsepower turbocharged five-cylinder engine coupled to a seven-speed automatic and, of course, a quattro all-wheel drive system.
In the sheetmetal the car will undoubtedly look less swoopy and stylized. However, the prospect of a high-horsepower small Audi is intriguing. Imagine, for instance, the performance of a Mitsubishi Evo or Subaru WRX STi, but with the interior and refinement of an Audi? Sound interesting? I think so. We'll all find out soon enough.