Audi A3 Electric-only Mk5 due 2027, topped by RS3

Audi A3 Electric-only Mk5 due 2027, topped by RS3

Super-hot RS3 to top electric Audi A3 range. New platform, advanced tech, fast charging, 435-mile range: arrives in UK in 2027


AUDI A3’S ELECTRIC FUTURE INCLUDES RS3

The next Audi A3 is set to become an electric-only model with a maximum range of more than 400 miles and the choice of either standard rear- or optional four-wheel drive, sources at the car maker have revealed. The decision means the popular hatchback and saloon will abandon petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid and natural gas power to go up against the Volkswagen ID 3 with a raft of battery and powertrain options and next-generation technology.

Scheduled for UK launch in 2027, the fifth-generation A3 will be based on the Volkswagen Group’s new skateboard-style SSP (Scalable Systems Platform) electric architecture – the same structure that is set to make its debut on the upcoming Volkswagen ID 4 saloon currently being developed under the internal working title Project Trinity. It will also underpin an Audi sibling model known as Apollon.

The move comes after Audi rejected a proposal to develop a new entry-level electric model on the existing MEB platform, which is used by the Q4 E-tron and closely related ID 4 and Skoda Enyaq iV.

The switch to electric power means standard versions of the A3 will abandon front-wheel drive for the first time since the model’s introduction in 1996, though the most potent models are tipped to adopt a twin-motor, four-wheel-drive set-up reminiscent of the current Audi Sport-fettled A3 variants: the S3 and RS3.

These are comfortably the best-selling cars in Ingolstadt’s performance line-up, with 753 RS3s and 442 S3s sold last month in the UK alone.

An electric RS3 will be the entry point into the newly electrified performance line-up, being sold alongside rapid and outlandishly styled sporting variants of the upcoming electric A4 and A6 successors. Audi Sport’s transition to an electrified portfolio has kicked off with range-topping variants of the E-tron SUV and E-tron GT saloon, and it is expected to ultimately match the diversity and scope of its current performance range, which comprises highly strung variants of most Audi models.

Instant-torque electric power will see the ‘RS3 E-tron’ outpace the current five-cylinder petrol car in a straight line – so expect a sub-3.8sec 0-62mph time, and the innovative torque-vectoring functionality fitted to Audi’s existing fast EVs will no doubt trickle down to upcoming entrants to mimic the combustion car’s dynamic agility. It could also be the first of a breed, with rivals BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen yet to unwrap electrification plans for their own hottest hatchbacks. The A3 line’s electrification aligns with recent comments by Audi CEO Markus Duesmann that all new Audi models will be exclusively electric from 2026.

Speaking to German magazine Wirtschaftswoche, Duesmann explained how this switch will be underpinned. “In our current ICE portfolio, we are using three different architectures, and our BEV [battery-electric vehicle] offer is already based on two different architectures: the MEB and PPE [Premium Platform Electric]. In the second half of this decade, we will introduce the SSP to form one strong mechatronic platform,” said Duesmann, who is also R&D boss of the Volkswagen Group.

Among the advantages offered by the new SSP architecture over today’s MEB structure are a lower floor height and greater modularity for increased differentiation between models.

The SSP platform is also designed to support a new 800V electric architecture. This will offer significantly faster charging times than the 400V system of existing MEB-based models and enable speeds of up to 270kW, which is good for an 80-mile top-up in 10 minutes. Duesmann said the SSP architecture will use what he calls a “unified cell format” and offer a range of up to 435 miles. Although the SSP platform is being developed to accept solid-state batteries, they are not planned to be offered with the next A3.

Autocar has been told that the next A3 has been conceived as a five-door hatchback and four-door saloon, both with incremental increases in dimensions. Those privy to early design proposals say Audi designers have taken full advantage of the packaging solutions offered by the dedicated SSP platform, providing the A3 with altered proportions, including shorter overhangs, a shorter bonnet line, a longer cabin and larger wheelhouses.

The new SSP platform will support single-motor rear-wheel drive and dual-motor four-wheel drive.

Platform for new A3 makes debut under ID 4 saloon

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