Last week on CARmag we showed you some design sketches of Audi’s new A3 concept, and while the drawings wet a few appetites there’s nothing like official images to give an indication of what the concept might look like in the metal...

These pictures, released by Audi just before the Geneva Motor Show opened its doors yesterday, actually show how close the A3 saloon could be to production status. With less pronounced wheelarches, smaller wheels and slightly less aggressive detailing, we’re pretty sure that this new model’s just around the corner.

For now, at least, it sure is great to look at. The front end is reminiscent of the 2007 Metroproject concept, with redesigned headlamps and an enormous number plate-free grille. We’re surprised at how “square” the profile is though, given the sportback and fastback styling Audi saloons have adopted of late.

Of course, there are other things that are not very likely to make a production-grade A3 saloon, like the five-cylinder turbocharged engine that also powers the Quattro concept... 300 kW requires the use of Quattro all-wheel drive system – which together with a seven-speed dual-clutch –tronic ‘box and 1 500 kg mass, equates to a 0-100 km/h sprint of little over four seconds. But who really knows what quattro GmbH has up its sleeve for the next two years...

The A3 concept’s interior lends some of the A1’s quirkiness – like the four large ventilation outlets on the facia and two multimedia screens... one facing the driver from the instrument panel, the other centrally-mounted with a slide-out function...

The new A3 is set to hit showrooms sometime in 2012...

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