The Audi A3 (8L) was introduced in 1996 initially in the UK as a small family 3/5-door hatchback, marking the return of Audi to small hatchbacks since the Audi 50 which sold just over 180,000 cars over 4-years ending in 1978. The S3 topped the model range using the Haldex 4-wheel drive system with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine making it the first time a small 4-cylinder engine had been used in an Audi S-series.
In 2003 the second generation, the A3 8P, was introduced in Europe however sales of the first generation continued in South America until 2006. Body style now included a 2-door convertible. Top of the model line up was the RS3 (8P) and marked the first time Audi had used a 5-cylinder engine for the A3 model.
The third generation, A3 8V, was introduced in 2012 using the much publicised Volkswagen Group MQB platform. The 4-door sedan (Nth America, aka saloon for European markets) body style was added.