Seen here for the first time is a prototype mule of the fourth-generation Audi A3, which is set to replace the outgoing Typ 8V model that’s been in service since 2012. The premium compact hatchback will likely be making its debut next year, with the hotter S3 and RS3 to follow in 2020, if not the year after.

In terms of looks, the new A3 will get a fresh new face, although interestingly the Ingolstadt-based automaker has decided to retain the jagged headlights from the existing model. However, expect the internal graphics to be different, possibly featuring the unique triangular LED daytime running lights, as seen in the photo above.

Of course, in line with Audi’s latest design language, the singleframe grille will be enlarged, featuring honeycomb-style inserts and underlined by a wide diffuser. Like before, Sportback models will get the optional roof rails, and the side mirrors continue to be mounted on the doors instead of the A-pillars.

The S3, on the other hand, will feature more aggressive-looking exterior bodykit, notably S-specific front and rear bumpers, larger alloy wheels and the distinctive quad exhaust tips.

While the overall silhouette looks largely the same, the upper rear deck of the new A3/S3 appears to look more steeply-raked, giving it a more elongated profile. Nothing much can be made of from the back, although it’s obvious that the new model will get brand new LED tail lights that taper inwards into a sharp tip.

There’s no photos showing the interior though, but expect the cabin to be significantly overhauled, possibly featuring the brand’s second-generation Virtual Cockpit. A centrally-mounted touchscreen infotainment system could also make its way here, either measuring 8.8-inch diagonally (with handwriting input as on the A8) or 10.1-inch MMI navigation plus system (as seen in the new Audi A1) with hybrid route guidance that draws from the cloud as well as Audi connect.

For powertrain, not much is known, but it’s likely that the A3 will be underpinned by an upgraded version of VW Group’s MQB platform. Expect the existing range of engines to be fine tuned and carried over – the Group’s 1.5 litre EA211 TSI evo engine with Active Cylinder Technology could be offered, as well as a range of advanced electrified powertrains.

Also, the A3 could possibly be joined by a new four-door coupe, in addition to the current hatch, five-door Sportback, Cabriolet and four-door sedan models. The coupe is said to be modelled after the TT Sportback concept and will go head to head against the Mercedes-Benz CLA.

GALLERY: Next-gen Audi A3 spyshots

GALLERY: Next-gen Audi S3 spyshots