Marqued Man: Should Audi Create an RS 3 Avant?

With the new Audi A3 Sportback barely launched into the market, Audi is moving on to its next full generation offering of the A3 lineage. Given this new step in both technology and design, not to mention a fair amount of time by this author stuck at home during Covid-19 virus avoidance, it’s gotten me to thinking about where this all goes.

As you may recall, the new A3 was set to debut at the Geneva Motor Show earlier in March. Those were the early days of Covid-19, but the Swiss government put a stop to it, outlawing any gatherings over over 1,000 people. What seemed a bit extreme back then, now seems entirely normal, but unfortunately this meant that the A3 has yet to enjoy a public debut short of a few pre-show test drives Audi AG hosted with select European publications, Youtubers and influencers ahead of time. (Also, is it just us or should the people on these pre-reveal test drive videos figure something to do other than standing there and pointing at the car as if to gloat they got to drive it, but alas you didn’t… sorrynotsorry. Seems extra hurtful in these days of Covid-19. Smiley winking face so nobody gets offended. – ed.)

With the A3 just barely launched, it’s not surprising that rendering artists have already begun to photoshop their own takes on the RS 3 Sportback. That’s cool and all, but those of us in the USA know that when we do get the next RS 3, it won’t be a Sportback. It’ll be a sedan like the one we recently caught testing.

That’s cool and all too, but the enthusiast in me wishes they’d build an Avant. Yes, I know, there’s nothing to suggest Audi would actually build an RS 3 Avant. Even still, when you consider the RS 3, its size, that it’s a tunable monster powered by the brand’s flame-snorting 2.5 TFSI, there is no doubt it harkens four-ringed icons of yore, and most specifically the RS2. Also, I’d like to think it wouldn’t be terribly hard… even though at this seemingly early stage it is likely too late in the lifecycle to plan if it’s not already in the planning… which it likely isn’t.

Design-wise, we only have the A3 Sportback to compare, and a few spy photos of an RS 3 sedan spied out cold weather testing. That’s enough though to give us the basics, including some very animated bulging fender flares that are the most extreme we’ve seen in the A3 corner of the Audi family.

Beyond design, what we know thus far of the A3 isn’t terribly deep. ETKA tells us the code for the new A3 is 8Y, designating it as the all-new generation. The car is based on the latest evolution of the MQB transverse matrix, so if tradition holds then some may start to refer to the underpinnings as MQB-evo. We’ll see.

Audi had already dropped the 3-door A3 in Europe, leaving just the Sportback, Cabriolet and sedan of the outgoing 8V versions. Of those the Cabriolet had been dropped in the USA. As for the sedan, we’ve already seen mules testing this body style, so its return is a foregone conclusion. The notchback A3 is the cornerstone of Audi of America’s sales. While the Sportback was sold for limited years as the e-tron PHEV and Audi briefly flirted with the idea of a TDI version for the USA, only the sedan is offered today.

Outside of Audi, this new “MQB-evo” component set is already spawning other new models. Some, like the Volkswagen Golf, are bluechip for the Volkswagen Group. Others, like the SEAT/Cupra Leon Supertourer are more niche, but interesting because they speak to yet more body styles like a station wagon. Most aficionados of the Volkswagen Group product range know that VW offered a Golf Sportwagen in the USA during the last generation, but more recently announced it would be canceled in this market.

From this I take two things. First, Volkswagen leaving the market with their station wagon variant leaves a space that Audi could field with more profitability given the premium positioning of the A3. Utilizing even the same greenhouse as the “MQB-evo” Cupra Leon Supertourer (or the Skoda Octavia Combi) would lessen the need for investment in parts.

The formula then is this unrealistically simple take. Take the Cupra Leon ST hat and put it on the RS 3 sedan underpinnings with RS 3 nose, A3 doors front and rear, and a newly developed rear clip… including A3 Sportback lights. Don’t plan on selling a lot… at least of the RS version). Plan on selling a few, and mark it up accordingly as a “Micro Batch” for the most ardent. Let the lack of supply raise the demand to the pricing needed to make it happen. Hell, pre-sell it if you must as a “pull through” plan on a business incubator website in order to make the vocal like me put up or shut up.

This is my enthusiast Covid-19 cabin fever dream. It is highly unlikely. What I’ve learned over the years in production planning tells me it is near impossible, but someone stuck at home can dream can’t they? Even still, what I’ve also learned over the years is that you never know what can happen if the right people read a story in the press.