Even though this is only the first batch of spy shots, the prototype already has the production body and lights.

[UPDATE, August 9] Just one day after spying on the next-generation Audi S3, we're now sharing a batch of fresh images with the lesser A3. See the gallery right below.

The current-generation Audi A3 has been an important model for the Volkswagen Group taking into consideration it was the first car to ride on the MQB platform. A plethora of small to medium cars have been launched since the A3’s debut at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, and now VAG is getting ready to refresh its flexible MQB platform.

Debuting next year along with its MQB sisters Volkswagen Golf VIII and SEAT Leon IV, the fourth-gen Audi A3 has been spotted out in the open for the first time. Oddly enough, not only was this prototype carrying around the production body, but it appeared to be the hotter S3. Judging by the S-specific quad exhaust tips at the back and what look to be fairly generous air vents up front, we are inclined to believe this is, in fact, the warm performance variant.

Even though Audi went to the trouble of plastering swirly camouflage all over the body, we can easily see the brand new headlights and taillights signaling the 2019 A3 will embrace the firm’s latest design language. We’ve seen similar lights on the larger A6, A7, and A8 models, but also on the new A1 Sportback, so it’s no surprise the compact premium hatchback will adopt a similar look. Fun fact: the LED daytime running light signature looks like a small triangle.

Gallery: 2019 Audi A3 spy photos

There’s a very good reason why this prototype has five doors since Audi will eschew the less practical three-door body style for the next-gen model, much like it has done with the A1 supermini. The A3 Sportback seen here might tempt you to believe it’s merely a test mule using the outgoing model’s body, but that’s not the case. Look closer and you’ll see the shape of the hood is significantly different and the fuel cap is angled and positioned closer to the car’s rear. The roofline seems to be a tad more sloped towards the rear, but we’re not entirely sure.

The new Audi A3 Sportback doesn’t appear to be visibly larger than the model it will replace, but even so, it still might offer additional room inside the cabin and trunk thanks to better packaging enabled by the upgraded MQB underpinnings. The amount of tech Audi will be able to cram inside the next-gen A3 will likely be on a par with the recently unveiled 2019 Q3 from where the hatchback will inherit the engine lineup.

We’re not expecting the S3 to be offered from day one as logic tells us the Four Rings company will launch it at some point in 2020, maybe as a 2021MY.

Photos: CarPix

Gallery: 2021 Audi S3 Sportback spy photos