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[NEWS] Entry-level EV to replace Audi A3 to arrive before 2027

Entry-level EV to replace Audi A3 to arrive before 2027

Audi RS3 E-tron 2024 front static, Autocar render
Electric entry car will be similar in size to the A3 but has not yet been confirmed to use its name

Due before 2027, the hatchback will get a new platform, advanced tech, fast charging and a range of around 400 miles

An entry-level EV, similar in size to the Audi A3, will be launched in the middle of the decade as the German car maker ramps up its electrification shift.

The A-segment model, confirmed to Autocar by Audi CTO Oliver Hoffman, is part of a plan to get an electric car in each “core” segment by 2027

It is expected to use the Volkswagen Group’s new skateboard-style SSP (Scalable Systems Platform) electric architecture – the same structure that is set to make its debut on the upcoming Volkswagen ID 4 saloon currently being developed under the internal working title Project Trinity – offering a maximum range of more than 400 miles.

“We communicate today that we will offer an A-segment car, under the Q4. [It will be] comparable to the A3,” Hoffman said before the firm’s annual conference. 

He did not confirm if the car would take the A3 nameplate, but it will naturally replace the car, given that Audi will launch only EVs from 2026.

The switch to electric power means standard versions of the A3 replacement will abandon front-wheel drive for the first time since the model’s introduction in 1996. The car, as with the current model it will replace, is expected to spawn more potent variants, such as the S3 and RS3. These are tipped to adopt a twin-motor, four-wheel-drive set-up.

Read more: Audi to launch 20 models by 2025, half of them EVs

As Audi goes EV-only, an electric RS3 will be the entry point into the newly electrified performance line-up. Audi Sport’s transition to an electrified portfolio has kicked off with range-topping variants of the Audi E-tron SUV and Audi E-tron GT saloon, and it is expected to ultimately match the diversity and scope of its current performance range, which comprises highly strung versions of most Audi models.

Instant-torque electric power will enable the ‘RS3 E-tron’ to outpace the current five-cylinder petrol car in a straight line – so expect a sub-3.8sec 0-62mph time, and the innovative torque-vectoring functionality fitted to Audi’s existing fast EVs will no doubt trickle down to upcoming entrants to mimic the combustion car’s dynamic agility. It could also be the first of a new breed, with rivals BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen yet to unwrap electrification plans for their own hottest hatchbacks.

Among the advantages offered by the new SSP architecture over today’s MEB structure are a lower floor height and greater modularity for increased differentiation between models.

The SSP platform is also designed to support a new 800V electric architecture. This will offer significantly faster charging times than the 400V system of existing MEB-based models and enable speeds of up to 270kW, which is good for an 80-mile top-up in 10 minutes. Audi CEO Markus Duesmann said the SSP architecture will use what he calls a “unified cell format” and offer a range of up to 435 miles. Although the SSP platform is being developed to accept solid-state batteries, they are not planned to be offered on the successor to today's A3.

Autocar has been told that the A3 replacement has been conceived as a five-door hatchback and four-door saloon, both with incremental increases in dimensions. Those privy to early design proposals say Audi designers have taken full advantage of the packaging solutions offered by the dedicated SSP platform, providing the A3 successor with altered proportions, including shorter overhangs, a shorter bonnet line, a longer cabin and larger wheelhouses.

Audi's EV onslaught: What's coming when

2024 Audi Q6 E-tron

5 Audi q6 e tron 2024 static front render

The electric equivalent of the best-selling Audi Q5 crossover will be the first car to be based on the new PPE EV platform that Audi is developing with Porsche and, as such, will be a close technical relation to the upcoming Porsche Macan EV. The flat floor and lack of an engine will make for a much more spacious cabin than that of the Q5 and the new-generation architecture will make it competitive in terms of range, charge times and performance.

2024 Audi A4 E-tron

6 Audi a4 e tron 2024 static front render

Audi will go after the indomitable Tesla Model 3 – and its increasingly popular rivals, the Polestar 2 and BMW i4 – with an electric version of the next-generation A4. To be sold alongside an array of familiar combustion and hybrid options, the A4 E-tron will share its Q6 sibling’s PPE platform but will be styled similarly to its combustion counterpart. Expect a four-wheel-drive RS-badged range-topper, too.

2024 Audi A6 E-tron

7 Audi a6 avant e tron 2024 static front

Closely previewed in concept form – as both a Sportback saloon and an Avant estate – the dramatically styled A6 E-tron won’t immediately replace the current A6 but will serve as a long-legged and promisingly potent zero-emissions equivalent. Audi’s betting big on the continued popularity of the estate car in certain markets, whereas its Mercedes rival has hinted that it could leave the segment entirely.

2024 Audi A8 E-tron

8 Audi grandsphere concept 2021 static front

Described as a “private jet for the road”, this sleek BMW i7 rival – previewed by 2021’s radical Grandsphere concept – will major on autonomous functionality and connectivity. As such, the cabin will be a minimalistic and airy ‘lounge-style’ environment with a drastic reduction in the number of buttons and screens. It will be more of a GT than the current A8, so expect greater focus on straight-line speed and cornering dynamics.

Additional reporting by Greg Kable

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