The new Audi A3 Sportback brings big-car technology and futuristic connectivity to the five-door family hatchback

The 2020 Geneva Motor Show may have been cancelled due to concerns about the coronavirus, but that didn’t stop the launch of the all-new Audi A3 Sportback. The first of a whole new family of A3 models was instead unveiled at Audi’s HQ in Ingolstadt, and live-streamed to the world online. Proof you can’t keep a good car down.

And perhaps a digital unveiling was more appropriate for a car that bristles with new technology and cutting-edge connectivity. Redesigned from the ground up, the new A3 Sportback has a fresh, athletic look, with curvaceous, flared wheel arches and distinctive new headlights. Slightly longer and wider than the outgoing model, the new five-door hatchback offers more room inside, with a lower driving position underlining the car’s sporty character.

Inside, the new cabin is positively futuristic, with strong horizontal lines, bold air vents and a big 10.1-inch touchscreen incorporated into the middle of the dash. Ahead of the driver, another screen features Audi’s Virtual Cockpit as standard. In the higher Edition 1 and Vorsprung trim levels, this 10.25-inch screen can be upgraded to Virtual Cockpit plus with a bigger 12.3-inch display. A head-up display – which projects information on the windscreen – is also standard on the Vorsprung trim.

The brains behind all this tech has also been updated. The new A3 features a new generation of the MMI operating system, which is ten times more powerful than the outgoing model. User interaction includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, handwriting recognition and natural voice control. MMI Navigation plus – also standard on the new A3 Sportback – recognises your route preferences based on previous journeys, and takes real-time traffic into account. You can view your route as a map or as high-resolution Google Earth images; 3D views of many major European cities also make it easier to spot your next left turn. Audi Connect adds points of interest with photos, opening hours, user reviews and even a weather forecast at your destination.

Even more ‘sci-fi’ are the new A3’s Car-to-X services, which can connect your car to other vehicles on the road and to the environment you’re driving through. Where local infrastructure is available, Car-to-X can help you find a parking space, or it can help co-ordinate your progress across town in time with the traffic lights.

Many of these technologies are the kind of thing you’d expect on bigger, premium cars; likewise the driver assist systems. The new A3 features front and rear radars, a front camera, four surround-view cameras and 12 ultrasonic sensors. Audi pre sense front, the collision avoidance system, and a lane departure warning are both fitted as standard. If you order a car with the S tronic dual-clutch automatic gearbox, you can upgrade with the Driver Assistance Package to get lane-change and exit warnings, and adaptive cruise assist, which maintains speed and distance to the vehicle in front on the motorway. In traffic jams, the system can also brake the A3 Sportback down to a standstill.

In the UK, the new A3 Sportback is initially available with two engines, both with front-wheel drive: a 1.5-litre TFSI manual with 150PS; and a 2.0-litre 35 TDI with 150PS and the S tronic gearbox. Soon the range will be broadened with quattro all-wheel-drive models and a mild hybrid TFSI.

The new A3 Sportback is available in five trim levels: Technik, Sport, S line, Edition 1 and top-of-the-range Vorsprung. Prices for the new A3 Sportback start from £24,900 on the road, and Audi Centres are now taking orders with first customer deliveries expected in May.