Audi A3, RS3 going EV-only by 2027 – report

Audi's next small car range will continue to offer hatch and sedan bodies and a hot RS3, but won't offer combustion power.

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The Audi A3 will live on even as its Mercedes-Benz A-Class rival reportedly heads for the exit.

Autocar reports the next A3 hatchback and sedan will arrive in 2027, offering electric power only and riding the new Scalable Systems Platform electric vehicle architecture.

The SSP is set to debut on the Volkswagen Project Trinity, and will also reportedly underpin an Audi model being referred to as the Apollon.

Audi reportedly rejected a proposal to use the current MEB architecture that underpins the Q4 e-tron, among myriad Volkswagen Group models.

The new architecture will reportedly offer a lower floor height and improved modularity, allowing for greater differentiation between models.

It’ll also support a new 800V electric architecture (compared to MEB’s 400V) with charging speeds of up to 270kW, while Audi has said SSP models will offer up to 700km of range.

The next A3 will reportedly offer a choice of single-motor rear- or dual-motor all-wheel drive, with a hot RS3 flagship continuing atop the range.

The RS3 will reportedly offer quicker straight-line performance than the current turbocharged five-cylinder model, which does the 0-100km/h dash in a claimed 3.8 seconds.

The next A3 will reportedly take advantage of its dedicated EV architecture with shorter overhangs and a longer wheelbase.

It’ll once again serve as the entry point to the Audi range, with the A1 hatch and Q2 crossover not being replaced at the end of their life cycles – even as the Cupra, Skoda and Volkswagen brands have each previewed entry-level EVs on the MEB Small platform.

The current, fourth-generation A3 entered production in 2020 but took until 2022 to arrive locally. It competes against the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

The next A3, however, may find itself with less competition.

Autocar reported in April that BMW’s next generation of small models is “under review” as the current UKL architecture won’t support longer-range plug-in hybrid models, while the current UKL family is a low-volume one globally.

An insider told the publication, however, that China remains a strong potential market for small BMWs, and if the brand left the entry-level luxury space it “would be giving the market share away to rivals”.

Mercedes-Benz has already confirmed it’s cutting its number of entry-level luxury models from seven to four, and it’s the popular A-Class that looks to be facing the axe as the brand prioritises more profitable models.

According to Handelsblatt, the A-Class will be discontinued in 2025. The B-Class will also reportedly be axed, leaving the related CLA four-door coupe and Shooting Brake wagon, plus the GLA and GLB crossovers.

In addition to the next A3, Audi is developing a raft of electric models.

The Q6 e-tron has already been confirmed, sharing the Premium Platform Electric – co-developed by Audi and Porsche – with the upcoming Porsche Macan EV.

Audi has previewed the related A6 e-tron in concept form, both as a sedan and as an Avant wagon, while the A4 e-tron will also reportedly use the PPE architecture.

Both models are expected in 2024, along with a flagship A8 e-tron previewed by the 2021 Grandsphere concept. A Q8 e-tron SUV will follow, likely sometime around mid-decade.

Before these models launch, the current e-tron – Audi’s first electric vehicle – will reportedly get an update in 2023.

The updated e-tron SUV will reportedly get upgraded electronics and electric motors, a new battery, and a commensurate bump in range – potentially more than 600km, a sizeable leap over the current car’s maximum of 436km.

Audi has confirmed last year it will launch its last new global model with internal combustion engines (ICE) in 2025.

The marque will then begin “gradually phasing out the production of internal combustion engines until 2033”.

There’s one gaping hole and a bit of wiggle room in Audi’s plans, though.

Audi says it “expects to see continued demand [for cars with ICE] in China beyond 2033, which is why there could be a supply of vehicles there with combustion engines manufactured locally”.

It also believes “the exact timing of the combustion engine’s discontinuation at Audi will ultimately be decided by customers and legislation”.

Audi sells numerous vehicles in China exclusive to that market, including the MEB-based Q5 e-tron and the MQB-based Q6.

MORE: Everything Audi A3S3RS3

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William Stopford

William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel (remember that?), briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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