Audi unveils 2013 A3 Sportback ahead of Paris debut

The 2013 A3 Sportback is almost 200 pounds lighter than the outgoing model.

Audi has lifted the veil off of the much-awaited five-door version of the third-generation A3 hatchback. Unsurprisingly called A3 Sportback, it is scheduled to make its public debut in Paris next week.

The Sportback is nearly identical to its three-door sibling but its wheelbase is 1.3 inches longer. It is fitted with an extra window on the C-pillar, a design cue borrowed from the last-gen model, and it is equipped with brushed aluminum roof rails.

Thanks to the same weight-saving techniques that Audi applied to the three-door A3, the new Sportback weighs almost 200 pounds less than the outgoing model.

Like its smaller sibling, the Sportback gains a new retractable LED display that boasts the first-ever in-vehicle application of 3D graphics. It is also fitted with advanced heads-up display unit which can display the distance to the vehicle ahead, warn the driver of direction changes and even alert the driver as to which direction a pedestrian is walking in the road ahead.

The rear bench seat can comfortably fit three adults or free up a total of 43 cubic feet of cargo space when folded out of the way. With the rear seats left up, the Sportback boasts 13.4 cubic feet of trunk space.

At its launch, the European-spec A3 Sportback will be offered with a single TDI engine and two TFSI engines. All of them come standard with a six-speed manual transmission but a six-speed dual-clutch S tronic unit can be ordered at an extra cost. More engines, including a downsized 1.2-liter TFSI unit, will be added to the lineup before the end of next year.

The range-topping 180-horsepower 1.8-liter TFSI and 184-horsepower 2.0-liter TDI mills are available with Audi's famed quattro all-wheel drive system while less powerful engines are limited to front-wheel drive.

Audi will expand the Sporback lineup with a performance-oriented S-badged model that is scheduled to bow next year and a plug-in hybrid e-tron model slated to debut in 2014. The last addition to the lineup will be a 110-horsepower TCNG model that runs on e-gas, a synthetic natural gas which Audi produces itself in a sustainable manner starting with wind energy.

The 2013 Audi A3 Sportback is scheduled to go on sale in Europe next February. Pricing information will be released closer to the car's launch.

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