Design sketch for the latest A5 Sportback could provide some clues to the direction Audi is taking with the next-generation A3 Sportback.

Ingolstadt, Germany - Right now the ‘Sportback’ badge means different things depending on which Audi it’s applied to. 

Technically they’re all hatchbacks, but in the A3’s case, the Sportback is a conventional ‘two-box’ hatch with a more vertical tailgate, while the A5 and A7 Sportbacks have a more horizontal tailgate, which many might refer to as a ‘liftback’ or three-box hatch.

How ever you choose to define it, it appears that the next-generation A3 Sportback will have a more coupé-like sloping tailgate that mimics its A5 and A7 equivalents.

According to Autocar, this will form part of a body-style shakeup for the all-new A3 range that’s due in 2019, in which the three-door hatchback is likely to fall away.

There will still be a conventional ‘two-box’ five-door hatchback similar to today’s Sportback, except that it will no longer be called the ‘Sportback’ as that name looks set to be reserved for the sportier ‘three-box’ model that we previously mentioned. 

However, this three-box 'liftback' variant has yet to be officially confirmed for production, according to the UK publication, and if it does see light of day it will only reach showrooms around 2021.

There will reportedly still be a conventional four-door sedan version of the next A3, which will go head-to-head with the A-Class sedan that Mercedes-Benz is planning, and which was previewed by the A Sedan Concept (below).

You might be wondering where this would leave the CLA, but it would appear that Mercedes is intending to replace that with an even more coupé-like model. Dare we suggest it might take the form of a five-door liftback?

Back to the next A3, the new model will no doubt take some design inspiration from the latest A4, A5 and A8 models, the latter pictured below with its wider and more angular trapezoidal grille that’s said to be the new face of Audi.

As for the beneath-the-skin stuff, the next A3 will reportedly be built around an updated version of the MQB modular platform, which will also underpin the eight-generation Golf that’s due around the same time.

Engines for the most part should be similar to today’s A3, although mild hybrid variants based around the A8’s 48-volt system are also a possibility, according to Auto Express.

At this stage it remains unclear how much of the latter’s autonomous driving technology will filter down to the A3.

Or whether any new body styles will join the range, besides those already mentioned. After all, there is apparently a gap in the market for an ActiveSportGranShootingBackCrossTourerCoupe.  

IOL Motoring