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Audi planning rugged, Allroad-like A3 off-shoot for 2022?

Will it really be named after an airline?

Audi is planning to release a more rugged-looking variant of the next-generation A3 hatchback, according to a recent report. The model will be aimed at buyers who want an SUV-like car without SUV-like fuel economy.

British magazine Auto Express learned the A3 soft-roader will receive a slightly taller suspension, plastic trim around the wheel arches, and model-specific design touches, including brushed aluminum-like accents on both ends. This sounds a lot like the treatment Audi reserves for its Allroad-badged model, but don't call it an A3 Allroad.

Auto Express added the A3 will be front-wheel drive-only to keep fuel economy in check. Adding Quattro all-wheel drive would make it heavier, and correspondingly less efficient. It's not eligible for the Allroad designation without all-wheel drive, so -- still according to the publication -- it will arrive with the Cityhopper label.

We doubt that; Cityhopper is the name of KLM's regional division, whose fleet is made up exclusively of Embraer aircrafts. We don't think Audi would name a car after a dinky plane used for 45-minute routes unless it plans to make pretzels and tomato juice standard while adding KLM Blue to its color palette. But apart from the name, the report sounds credible; buyers can't get enough of SUV-esque vehicles, and even Lamborghini is considering building a Huracan on stilts.

The next-generation Audi A3 is tentatively scheduled to make its global debut during the 2019 Frankfurt auto show, but the Cityhopper won't arrive until 2022 at the earliest. While the standard A3 hatchback most likely won't be sold in the United States, the Cityhopper variant's rugged looks might earn it a spot in American showrooms next to the next A3 sedan. Audi hasn't commented on the report, so we'll need to wait a few more months to learn more.

Photo by Ronan Glon.

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