Photos obtained earlier this year revealed that Audi has begun testing of its next-generation 2012 Audi A3, transplanting the new hatchback's mechanical package into the body of the closely-related Golf VI in an attempt to keep prying eyes away.
But despite the unassuming facade of the Golf, our spy photographers weren't fooled by the prominent wheel arch flares that have been grafted onto the VW's body.
While the wheels currently fitted to the prototype still use the Golf's standard sizing, the flares and repositioned fuel filler suggest that a much wider track (and possibly a markedly larger body) is in store for the new A3.
Our new renderings (top, below and in gallery) offer a glimpse of what might lay ahead for the popular premium hatch, drawing styling cues from and evolving the design of Audi's latest new models.
It's still much too early to speculate on drive and powertrain options, but expect Audi to further refine its high-efficiency stop-start and regenerative braking systems and make greater use of low-displacement forced-induction engines.
The current A3 has been with us since 2003, and will be due for replacement in the next year.
This Golf-based prototype signifies that the A3 project is most definitely off the drawing board and into real-world trials. This suggests the real deal should appear on the scene in mid to late 2011.