Is it just me or does this new A3 concept look more like how a future A4 should look? Seriously, I had to check the press release more closely in case it was a typo. But no, this is indeed an A3 and the for the first time it comes in four-door saloon form.

Known simply as the A3 concept, the fastest (and largest!) ever factory-produced A3 is the latest in a long line of one-off Audi design studies, and is characteristically laden with technological advances in everything from construction to infotainment.

Apart from the new body shell, the most immediately obvious highlight of the A3 concept is its five-cylinder Turbo FSI petrol engine, whose 402 bhp output outnumbers its closest production stable-mate, the potent RS 3 Sportback, by 67 bhp. Peak torque of 500Nm is also 50Nm up, and is available over a broad rev range between 1,600 and 5,300 rpm, making an explosive 4.1-second 0-62mph time a reality. Top speed is electronically limited to 155mph.

At 4,440mm long, 1,840mm wide and just 1,390mm high, the A3 concept weighs 1,540kg, which is less than it could be due to the use of ultra-modern components, design methods and generous application of carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP).

The Audi drive select dynamic handling system appears for the first time in an A3, giving the driver five modes with which to fine-tune engine characteristics, power steering feel and gear shift points for the seven-speed S tronic transmission. As well as the more familiar comfort, auto, dynamic and individual settings, the latest iteration of the system features an efficiency mode designed for maximum economy.

The A3 concept is merely a design study at the moment, so don’t expect to hear any word on pricing or future build plans, but some of its technology will be seen in future production models – especially that 402 bhp five-cylinder engine.

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