Audi is planning to take on the new Mercedes-Benz CLA with its own style-led five-door coupe based on the A3 platform. The company claims that the coupe’s most powerful version will be a spiritual successor to the original Sport Quattro.
The new secret project was given the green light by former Audi chairman Rupert Stadler earlier in 2018 and will join the company’s A3-based product range of four models. When the liftback enters production, it will be sold alongside the five-door hatchback, two-door cabriolet, and the four-door saloon body types of the A3.
Autocar claims that the new five-door A3 could claim the Sportback name to draw a link between it and the A5 Sportback. Audi has previously used the moniker for the five-door A3 hatchback. In addition to playing the field against the new Mercedes-Benz CLA, the liftback will also rival BMW’s upcoming 2-Series Gran Coupe in a segment turning out to be increasingly lucrative for the German Big Three.
Word from Ingolstadt also suggests that the liftback will serve as a replacement for the Audi TT which has seen a steady decline. Recent buyers are favouring more versatile options over compact two-door models, which is the reason for the TT’s slowing sales. However, this speculation was denied by highly placed Audi sources in Ingolstadt who suggest the TT coupe and roadster still have time to serve for now.
Audi is also planning variants of the touted A3 liftback with higher power outputs. A 2.0-litre four-cylinder motor could make its way to an S3 Quattro liftback with an expected output of at least 300hp to take on the Mercedes-AMG CLA35. The most powerful liftback will be an exciting RS3 planned for a 2021 launch. The existing RS3 will donate its 2.5-litre five-cylinder powertrain with slight revisions to the RS3 liftback, aboard which the motor will make in excess of 400hp. This time, the prime target is the Mercedes-AMG CLA45.
More affordable versions of the A3 liftback will get a range of smaller engines including a 1.4-litre petrol motor with a 48V mild-hybrid system. Audi intends to link the car with the 1983 Sport Quattro which is an iconic design in the German carmaker’s portfolio. The RS3 will get a number of traditional styling touches like air vents that are within the leading edge of the bonnet, flared wheel arches, and a pronounced spoiler within the trailing edge of an angled notchback gate.
Finally, as part of the Volkswagen Roadmap E, Audi could also introduce a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid model followed by an all-electric e-Tron variant that will rival the Tesla Model 3.