Geneva Motor Show 2012• Third generation of Audi’s popular hatchback
• Two-door coupe version expected
• CO2 emissions from 99g/km

The all new Audi A3 is making its debut at the Geneva Motor Show and is a case of gentle evolution rather than a radical rethink of the old model.

What is it?

A posh German saloon in a hatchback body. The appeal of the A3 extends beyond the cache of the badge, as it offers much of the trappings of Audi’s more expensive cars in a practical, easy to park package. If you want a luxury car, but don’t like the idea of something huge and unwieldy, or just want your runabout to feel a bit special, then this is definitely worth a look.

What’s it like?

It takes a trained eye to immediately spot the external differences between this new A3 and the outgoing model – Audi clearly not wanting to spoil a recipe that has proved a big hit with buyers. It gets thinner front and rear lamp clusters, heavier creases in the body work, and a more pronounced ‘goatee’ grille. The overall effect being to tighten up the existing styling and bring it in line with the current Audi design theme. It’s also some 80kg lighter than the old model and will initially be available with a choice of one diesel and two petrol engines.

The inside has been more thoroughly made over, borrowing styling elements from the A1 city car. It will come with a raft of upmarket options to distance it from its more bread and butter competition, such as a head-up display and a new 3D colour display for the Driver’s Information System. The new model also gets an electronic handbrake and a multimedia interface display which retracts into the dashboard when not in use.

What’s it up against?

Aside from the similarly upmarket BMW 1-Series, the new A3 has to compete with more mainstream competition in the form of the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, which have made great strides in terms of quality and equipment with every successive model. Expect the Audi to have the edge though, particularly with regards to interior ambience.

When can I buy it?

Order books open this spring, with the first customer cars being delivered in September. The new A3 range will start from approximately £19,000 on the road.

By Daljinder Nagra

The cars of Geneva 2012:

Audi A3
Audi RS4 Avant
Ferrari F12berlinetta
Ford B-Max
Ford Fiesta ST
Ford Kuga
Hyundai Veloster Turbo
Lamborghini Aventador J
Land Rover DC100
Lexus RX 450h
Mercedes A Class
Nissan Invitation
Porsche Boxster
Volkswagen Golf GTI Cabriolet
Volkswagen Polo BlueGT