Next-Generation Audi A3: Crazy Like A Fox?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
next generation audi a3 crazy like a fox

Given how far Audi has come in the last 20 years, you might think the Ingolstadt boys would be the last brand to start looking backwards. And yet, starting with its re-imagined ur-Quattro, Audi has begun to reference its past work more often, doubtless in an attempt to square its somewhat stodgy past with its fashion-forward present. But then, the ur-Quattro has always been a halo for the brand, in ways that the Audi 80 and its predecessor, sold in the US as the Fox (and later as the 4000), wasn’t always. Don’t get it wrong: the 80, which was sold in Europe from 1966-1996, was by no means a bad car… but the modern Audi era of success didn’t start until the 80 was replaced with the A4. Which is why it’s interesting that Audi’s plans for the next-generation of A3 explicitly reference the nameplate that defined Audi as a solid but decidedly unglamorous premium (rather than luxury) brand.

The reason for this look back to the 80? Emerging markets are demanding more sedan bodystyles and lower costs than the European market that largely shaped Audi’s modern revival, and in order to achieve the brand’s ambitious volume goals, a more approachable vehicle is needed. As Autocar reports

Conceived along similar lines to parent company Volkswagen’s latest Jetta and described as a spiritual successor to the original Audi 80, the new A3 variant is being looked upon to boost Audi sales in markets such as North America, China and Russia, where saloon body styles are traditionally favoured over hatchbacks.

“We’ve looked at the situation very carefully and come to the conclusion that a small sedan (saloon) positioned below the A4 has the potential to significantly increase sales penetration in a number of markets,” an Audi official told Autocar.

The reference to the new Jetta might be a bit troubling for VAG fans who aren’t impressed by the unglamorous side-effects of increased volumes and lower price points, but weak sales of the current A3 in the US market seem to doom it to the same fate as the previous Jetta. And with more size (at just 19 cm shorter than the new Jetta), less cost and the first-ever use of VW’s world-conquering MQB platform, the rebirth of the Fox/4000/80 could be a huge money-maker for Audi. At least as long as it doesn’t drag the brand back to its pre-A4 image…

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  • Akitadog Akitadog on Feb 22, 2011

    Hey!!! It's the Euro BMW 1-series w/ AWD!

  • Kristjan Ambroz Kristjan Ambroz on Feb 22, 2011

    Actually just looked at the numbers - the best selling Audi (consistently for quite a while) is and has been the A4 - it had quite a lead over the A3 in 2010 as well - with 2011 projections showing the same. This is not to say that a sedan A3 does not make sense for emerging markets - and the US. As already noted, I hope they do not go down the Audi A1 route - that car is differentiated from a VW Polo practically only in exterior looks - the inside is pretty dire for an Audi. But then again, at the A3 sedan size the main volume will be outside of Europe, so price might be more of a draw? Dunno...

  • Donald More stuff to break god I love having a nanny in my truck... find a good tuner and you can remove most of the stupid stuff they add like this and auto park when the doors open stupid stuff like that
  • John Williams Sounds like a Burnout Special you can put together on any 5.0 F150. Whoever said this was Cars and Coffee bait is right on the money.
  • ToolGuy Question: F-150 FP700 (  Bronze or  Black) supercharger kit is legal in 50 states, while the  Mustang supercharger kit is banned in California -- why??
  • Scott "It may not be the ideal hauler to take the clan cross-country to Wally World considering range anxiety "Range Anxiety is a chosen term that conceals as much as it discloses. You don't care about range that much if you can recharge quickly and current BV's (battery vehicles) can't, no matter how good the chargers are. From what I've been reading it is likely that within 5 years there will be batteries in cars, most likely Tesla's, that can charge fast enough with no harm to the batteries to satisfy all of us with no need to increase range beyond a real world 300-ish miles.And that's when I buy one.
  • Charles I had one and loved it . Seated 7 people . Easy to park , great van