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 |  Feb 22 2012, 12:10 PM

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A selection of leaked images are providing a clear picture of the next generation Audi A3 hatchback.

The photos, leaked by ZR.ru, clearly show Audi’s big hexagonal grille and the sharp lines running from where that mouth meets the pointed headlights, all the way to the windshield. Details on the car aren’t out yet, but should emerge in advance of its release expected later this year. Look for several diesel options for Europe, as well as Audi’s 2.0T gasoline engine.

The A3 is based on Volkswagen Group’s new MQB versatile platform, which is said to eventually become the underpinnings for as many as 60 models.

Traditionally, Audi always releases new products in Europe well ahead of bringing them stateside. In the past, we’ve reported that the A3 hatchback will actually be discontinued in the U.S. in favor of a more Americanized sedan.

In either case we’ll be watching to see what happens next. For now you can look at our gallery below and weigh in under the comments section.

GALLERY: 2013 Audi A3 Hatchback leaked

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 |  Jan 30 2012, 8:00 PM

BMW is cashing in on the chauffeur craze in China by offering a stretched version of the 3-Series exclusively to Chinese customers.

The longer wheelbase sedan will be sold as a 335Li, and will offer more legroom to Chinese consumers who want to be driven around but can’t afford a legitimate chauffeur car like  Bentley or Rolls-Royce.

It might sound ridiculous that the mild-mannered 3-Series would merit a hired driver, but Audi has actually been advancing Chinese sales by offering the A6L and A4L sedans with “L” signifying the longer version.

The 335Li fits between the two Audi cars in terms of rear-seat legroom according to China Car Times. Chinese customers will be able to buy the car later this year, though it won’t be offered anywhere else in the world. That would have meant a lot of extra work on BMW’s part until recently. The German automaker will manufacture their Chinese 3-Series cars in partnership with Brilliance, a company they have worked with on several projects in the past.

[Source: China Car Times]

 |  Jan 20 2012, 2:45 PM

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Hatchbacks have their place in the U.S. but the term evokes a less-than-sporty image that sullies the sexy feel luxury manufacturers seek to embody.

That opinion is probably part of the reason why Audi is discontinuing the hatchback A3 for North America with the 2014 model year. Hatchbacks can make fantastic use of a relatively small space— at an aesthetic cost to some. While the decision may be frustrating to certain consumers, it will be hard to argue with the distincly Audi and definitely sexy new A3.

We got our first look at the A3 sedan during last year’s Geneva Auto Show, when the car was billed as a concept. At the time, Audi had a 408-hp turbocharged 5 cylinder shoehorned into the concept, which was actually about 6 inches longer than the A3 hatchback. It’s unlikely that we’ll see such a serious engine in the production model slated for North America, though our hopes still remain for an RS3 version.

Instead, a 2.0-liter 4 cylinder and a diesel option stand much better chances of shipping under the hood. The A3 is aimed directly at entry-level luxury consumers, young professionals who would be scared off by otherwise high luxury price tags. That means you can expect similar craftsmanship as other Audi interiors, albeit at a lower starting price of around $30,000.

GALLERY: 2014 Audi A3 Sedan

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[Source: Road & Track]