Audi A3 Sportback: Old vs New

Audi A3 Main

The all-new Audi A3 Sportback was revealed last month and we compared it to the outgoing model to highlight the differences.

The all-new 4th generation Audi A3 Sportback is expected to arrive in South Africa in the second quarter of 2021, alongside its performance sibling, the Audi S3. When this new Audi A3 Sportback was revealed online (thanks to the COVID-19 forcing the cancellation of the 2020 Geneva Motor Show), users commented how it's nothing more than a facelift. Well, here are just some of the key differences.

Most-notable changes to the A3 Sportback:


The outgoing Audi A3 Sportback was not an ugly car at all, but what the designers have done with the 4th-generation model is impressive. It's unmistakably an Audi A3 Sportback proportionally and in terms of shape, and it adopts all the latest Audi design cues. There are many more kinks and creases in the body and the headlights look like they're straight from the big Audi Q8. The foglight cluster is more prominent as is the now-standard honeycomb grill - the previous A3 had a straight grille. You may also notice this new version has 2 more doors than the picture below. That's because this model will only be sold as a 5-door Sportback.


In terms of size, the Audi A3 hasn't changed dramatically. The new 4th-generation model is fractionally bigger than the outgoing model and is longer by 30 mm, due to the shape of the new bumper designs at either end. Including the mirrors, Audi's newcomer is 18 mm wider and the track width on both axles have been increased by 11 mm. The boot space hasn't changed with 380 litres available, which with the rear seats folded expands to 1 200 litres, with the rear seats folded. Like before, the Audi A3 Sportback is built on the MQB platform which also underpins things like the Audi Q3, Volkswagen Golf and Volkswagen Tiguan.


Powering the new A3 Sportback are a range of turbocharged engines. The launch model is equipped with a 1.5 TFSI petrol powertrain, good for 110 kW and Audi is claiming consumption of 5.1L/100 km for the A3 Sportback 1.5 TFSI. Diesel fans will be pleased to hear there'll be a 2.0 TDI, available in two output guises: 85- or 110 kW. The less potent diesel engine is claimed to run average consumption of 3.6 L/100 km, whilst the 110 kW version consumes 3.9L/100 km. There'll be a manual gearbox and a dual-clutch transmission available for the new Audi A3 Sportback, but it's unlikely the former will be offered in our market. Globally, there will be hybridised motors and e-tron (electric only) derivatives too.

At the time of writing, Audi South Africa offered the old A3 Sportback in 1.0, 1.4 and 2.0 turbocharged petrol engines. They had outputs of 85 kW, 110 kW and 140 kW respectively. 

Cabin and Tech

It's the interior which benefits from the most changes. At first glance, you can see the layout has changed, with the retractable infotainment screen being ditched in favour of an integrated unit. This new infotainment system benefits from a new interface and user experience. Previously, you were able to write on the rotary dial aft of the gear selector and now you'll be able to do so on the main screen. The climate control vents have been repositioned and the Audi Virtual Cockpit digital dashboard has been updated to the same level as other modern Audi offerings. Keen-eyed spotters will also notice the lack of a transmission lever in the new model. The A3 is the 4th model in the VAG to lose the conventional gear shifter after the Porsche 911, Volkswagen Golf 8 and SEAT Leon.

Final Thoughts

As mentioned, the all-new Audi A3 Sportback is expected to reach South Africa in the 2nd quarter of 2020. At the time of writing, only the 5-door Sportback body style has been revealed. There's still the S3 performance derivative to come, as well as the expected sedan. There won't be a convertible this time though as Audi confirmed this model would be canned in August 2019. We're also expecting some fireworks from the next-generation Audi RS3, which we've seen in a sedan body style undergoing testing. In terms of pricing, the current Audi A3 starts at R454 410, so we're estimating it to start under the R500 000 mark.

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Further reading:

Audi A3 Sportback (2020) International Launch Review

Spy Shots: 2021 Audi RS3 Sedan

2021 Audi A3: SA Details Emerge

2020 Audi S3: Details

Audi A3 2.0T Sportback Auto (2017) Review