New 2020 Audi A3 Sportback revealed: the posh hatch is back!

  • New 2020 Audi A3 Sportback unveiled
  • Everything you need to know about new hatch
  • Plus we get an early drive in sportier S3 Sportback

The new Audi A3 Sportback is the mid-sized hatchback for people who want to inject some premium polish into their daily life. It’s arriving in UK dealers in July 2020, but you can place your order now and Audi’s hoping motorists who’ve enjoyed owning earlier A3s will be tempted to upgrade.

Whether you should will depend on your outlook on family motoring: premium rivals such as the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class already offer executive gadgets and build quality aplenty, and others will prefer the more competitive pricing and simple offering of mainstream models such as the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf.

What’s new on the 2020 Audi A3 Sportback range?

There is only one bodystyle to choose from, for now: the A3 is now a five-door hatchback only, with no three-door option available. Later this year you can expect the A3 Saloon to reappear but for now it’s Sportback or nothing.

New 2020 Audi A3 Sportback: it's five-door only

The latest Audi couture is wrapped around familiar oily bits - in essence, this is a VW Golf in a posher suit. You won’t mistake it for anything but an Audi, although the designers have tried to inject some more interest this time round, to help the A3 Sportback stand out from the crowd.

So there are more overly-designed headlamps, whose day-running lights are made up of 15 individual pinprick LEDs, allowing for a different light signature depending on the model you choose. So sportier models will have one sparkly pattern, plug-in hybrids another. Games of family I Spy on the motorway will never be quite the same again.

Which engines can I choose?

There’s a limited choice of engines at launch in the UK, but Parkers understands that more will be added pretty quickly. And in time there will be a decent choice of models with Quattro all-wheel drive, which could be useful if you live in the countryside or a place where extra traction could come in handy.

2020 Audi A3 Sportback: individual pinprick LED day-running lights add character

Today you can choose from these Audi A3 Sportback engines:

  • 1.0 TFSI 110hp
  • 1.5 TFSI 150hp
  • 1.5 TFSI MHEV 150hp
  • 2.0 TDI 115hp
  • 2.0 TDI 150hp

MHEV stands for Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle technology; this version harvests some of the energy wasted when braking or coasting to top up a battery which then powers the car at low speeds, saving energy. It’s not a full hybrid system (a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle, or PHEV, comes later), but it’s a handy way to save fuel.

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Technology on board

This is a remarkably roomy car, and we could get comfortable in both rows of seats. The boot is a fair size for a hatchback of this ilk and you can order an electric bootlid on some models, letting you waggle your foot under the bumper to operate the tailgate. Handy if you’ve got your arms full of shopping or babies.

The cabin features that rewarding Audi quality - everything feels really well made and you can tell you’re in something a cut above more mundane hatchbacks such as the Ford Focus. The choice of materials and precision of surfaces is top-notch.

2020 Audi A3 Sportback interior

Every model now has a generous 10.25-inch touchscreen, which is a nice detail; too often base cars make do without, but Audi is now baking lots of features into its digital displays. The infotainment system is bang-up-to-date and will even remember the profiles of up to six drivers, so the car will store your preferred sat-nav destinations, seat position and even air-con preferences.

What this means for you

If you like the sound of a posher hatchback, the new Audi A3 Sportback is definitely worth considering. Parkers has pored all over the new car and been impressed by its build quality, its features and the practical touches that litter the cabin.

We’ll be driving the new A3 in the coming months, so stay tuned for our full Audi A3 Sportback review when we’ll deliver our warts ’n’ all verdict. No UK prices have been announced yet, but on the Continent the range starts at €28,900 or around £24,800.

We've already had a go in the sportiest A3 - the new S3 hot hatch. Read on for our early test of a disguised prototype. 

Our full review of the outgoing Audi A3 Sportback

An early drive in the new 2020 Audi S3 Sportback

New 2020 Audi S3 Sportback: an early drive

The new Audi S3 Sportback arrives in UK dealers in August 2020 and Parkers has been granted an early go in this popular premium hot hatch so we can tell you whether it’s worth the wait. The range-topping S3 is a popular version of the A3 hatchback range, accounting for one in five sales in Great Britain, despite prices expected to rise from its predecessor’s £37,000 to nearer £39,000.

We can see why it’s a popular choice: you get the traditional Audi quality in spades, with an attractive, classy design lurking under that wacky prototype camouflage - and a level of build quality and gadgetry that will bring a warm glow of satisfaction when you park it up at home or the office car park. It’s a cut above more mainstream models.

It’s also a devastatingly rapid high-performance hatchback - and it’s the way it melds these two qualities, with a Clark Kent-like transformation, that is so compelling. Audi invited Parkers to drive a disguised prototype of the new 2020 Audi S3 Sportback and you can read on for our preview guide.

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Practicality: will the Audi S3 Sportback win at family life?

This is our first go in the new A3 hatchback range and our first impressions are of a car that should suit many buyers down to the ground - but be aware that choosing this faster, top-of-the-range S3 version does introduce some compromises.

Author Tim Pollard tries the new 2020 Audi A3 Sportback range out in a camouflaged early drive

Because it’s a pre-production prototype, we don’t yet have full specs and details, such as how big the boot is or how economical it will be. So it’s hard to compare with rivals, including the BMW M135i and Mercedes-AMG A35. We’ll know more when the Audi is fully revealed later in spring 2020.

We do know that the Quattro all-wheel drive system robs the S’s boot of some space; while mainstream A3 models will offer a double-height loadbay with a second compartment under the boot floor, the S3 Sportback sacrifices this area for the 4WD hardware to drive the rear wheels in slippery conditions.

Interior: what’s the new Audi S3 like inside?

In the front of the cabin, the new A3 range is roomy and even the tallest drivers will quickly get comfortable. Quilted leather sports seats grip well and we found them comfy even on long journeys. Two quite tall passengers will fit in the back seats, but those moulded, one-piece front seats standard in the sporty S3 mean they’ll find it hard to see out, owing to the integrated headrests blocking rear passengers’ view. There’s also a pronounced transmission tunnel taking drive to the back wheels and this restricts foot space for a middle-seat passenger on the rear bench.

Although we’ve driven the Audi S3 in prototype guise, the interior was camouflaged and we are not yet allowed to report on the finished cockpit. Suffice to say it will follow the lead of its sister car the new Volkswagen Golf, with a heavy reliance on touchscreens, fewer physical buttons and greater digital integration with your mobile phone and apps.

Comfort: a relaxing car

This is a comfy car to drive or be driven in. Choosing the S3 spec means you get a clever new suspension system with adaptive dampers. That all sounds rather complicated, but it means you can adjust the chassis for a greater bias to comfort or sportiness - by making the dampers and springs softer or firmer at the push of a button. 

Our handy explainer: what is adaptive suspension?

Audi S3 Sportback: the new 2020 model

Simply press the Audi Drive Select switch on the dashboard to select your preferred choice and the car does everything else for you. In Comfort mode, it serves up a soft, pillowy ride which soaks up the worst lumps and bumps you’ll find on a typical British road. Click into Dynamic, and everything firms up - you’ll be jiggled more, but the car remains hunkered down as you carve along your favourite back roads.

Performance: hot hatch ahoy! 

The 2020 Audi S3 Sportback is a devastatingly fast car. No performance figures have been published yet, but we know it features a 310hp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine - and that’s a lot of power in a modest hatchback this size. It's also (perhaps disappointingly) exactly the same power output as its predecessor.

We would estimate that it will do the benchmark 0-62mph sprint in a little under five seconds, making it as fast as many Porsches. Suffice to say, you’ll have plenty of acceleration on tap when you need to overtake a caravan or speed up to join a motorway.

Handling: Quattro for all-seasons grip

There are few rivals that offer such a broad range of ability: the S3’s Quattro all-wheel drive set-up means there is never any scrabbling for grip, as the car automatically sends drive to all four wheels and this is a real boon if you live in the countryside or want to cope better with winter slush and snow.

You might find more outright thrills in a fast Ford such as a Focus ST or RS, and the BMW M135i is perhaps more involving, but we really rate the S3’s handling. In Dynamic mode, everything sharpens up: the suspension tautens, the steering gets a little weightier and the exhaust note takes on a woofling, purposeful burble reminiscent of a proper sports car. 

Parkers Cars Coming Soon: the new 2020 Audi S3 Sportback

But the Audi’s ace card is how it then relaxes - and breathe - when you select Comfort mode. It has real spread of abilities that is quite compelling. If you’re not sure what mood you’re in, you can just leave the S3 in Auto mode, where the car makes the decisions for you, depending on your driving style and road conditions.

Safety

The Audi S3 range should be a very safe place to entrust your family and other precious cargo. With Quattro all-wheel drive and a reassuring, predictable drive you should be able to keep out of harm’s way and there are numerous systems to intervene on your behalf.

So electronic stability control will quell any skids and make sure you don’t lock the brakes in an emergency stop, and you can expect a multitude of gadgets to monitor other traffic around you and warn if you’re heading towards an impact. Details of these systems will be confirmed once the car is fully unveiled in May 2020.

Come back to this page for more information about the new 2020 Audi S3 Sportback range as we get it in the weeks ahead.

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