Audi's latest A3 has just hit U.S. showrooms in sedan guise but engineers are still developing new versions of the car.

Our latest spy shots show a prototype based on the A3 Sportback hatch sold overseas, and they point to a new A3 soft-roader in the works. The prototype sits higher than the regular A3 hatch and sports plastic cladding on the wheel arches typical of soft-roaders.

Soft-roaders like Audi's A4 Allroad and A6 Allroad make great alternatives to crossovers and SUVs, as you get the same elevated ride height without all of the bulk. They are ideal for unpaved roads or traversing thick snow, but don't expect to find much success with one in serious off-road environments.

2020 Audi A1 Citycarver

2020 Audi A1 Citycarver

This A3 soft-roader will likely adopt the Citycarver name that Audi has already applied to a smaller A1 soft-roader sold overseas (shown above), as the Allroad name is typically applied to vehicles with stretched wagon bodies and not regular hatchbacks. Some German media have also reported the use of the name Cityhopper.

Expect the A3 soft-roader, whatever it ends up being called, to share powertrains with the regular A3. A 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel drive should be standard across the range.

Look for a reveal next year. Since Audi doesn't sell the regular A3 Sportback in the U.S., we don't expect the soft-roader version here. It makes sense as Americans tend to prefer conventional crossovers like the related Audi Q3.