New Audi A3 Sportback and saloon go on sale from £22,410

The new Audi A3, featuring a dramatic overhaul inside and a mild-hybrid powertrain for the first time, is now available to order in the UK, priced from £22,410.

Both the saloon and Sportback variants have arrived on the market at the same time, despite staggered unveilings. The saloon is available in four trim levels, while the Sportback gains an additional Technik entry-level trim, which comes equipped with 16in alloy wheels, LED headlights, Audi’s new MMI infotainment system and a 10.25in virtual cockpit as standard.

Sport trim, priced from £26,175, adds electric mirrors, dual-zone climate control, 17in alloy wheels and LED daytime running lights, while the second-from-top S Line package gains privacy glass, sports seats, LED interior lighting and 18in alloys. Vorsprung trim heads up the range from £39,075, bringing with it matrix headlights, a black-themed styling pack, a Bang & Olufsen sound system and additional driver safety aids.

The tried-and-tested styling of Audi’s best-selling model in Europe remains, although the company has tried to make it look sportier to address the absence of a three-door model, which was culled during the previous generation.

Audi’s new A3 has a nearly identical footprint to its predecessor, at 4.34m long and 1.43m high, but is 3cm wider, at 1.82m, giving more elbow and shoulder room for passengers.

The model receives digital daytime-running lights for the first time, made up of 15 LEDs, allowing each trim derivative to have an individual light signature to set them apart.

The engine line-up at launch is a 148bhp 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol unit (TFSI) and a 2.0-litre diesel (TDI) with 114bhp or 148bhp. Soon after, a 108bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder TFSI will launch alongside the most notable unit: a second version of the 1.5 TFSI with mild-hybrid technology. This will mark the first time the A3 has been offered as a mild hybrid, although a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid (PHEV) entered production in 2014. Two PHEV variants of the new model will go on sale at a later date.

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How much did you have to stay true to the A3’s well-known design?

“It’s always a balance we need to find. This is still an A3, but the car needed to stand out more on the road. The outgoing car is a great car but it needed more character, in my opinion.”

Will anything from this A3’s design carry over to other Audis?

“We returned to a typical shoulder line, but it’s higher than the lower levels of other Audis. We’ve been criticised in the past for using the same elements on too many cars. We want a specific character for each model.”