Small family cars: Audi - BMW

* New cars coming in 2012 * Small family cars to MPVs revealed today * More throughout the week...

Small family cars: Audi - BMW

Audi A3
**What is it? All-new version of Audis top-selling UK model
Price from 17,000 (est)
On sale** Spring

Of all of Audis models, the A3 offers the most variation. The three-door and five-door Sportback hatchbacks will form the basis of the new version, but theres a strong chance that many more bodystyles will join the range later.

We can expect a convertible version, but Audi says that a four-door saloon is also a possibility. A saloon concept model appeared at the Geneva motor show in 2011, and a production version hasnt been ruled out.

What is certain is Audi wont drastically restyle the new A3. Instead, itll follow the current models proportions, but will gain Audis latest styling themes. This means more slanted headlights, more LED lights and more pronounced bodywork creases. The interior will also get an even more premium feel, with the latest version of the MMI media system and elements from bigger Audis, such as a Google Maps internet connection.

Engines are likely to benefit from an overhaul, with advanced versions of the current range of diesel and petrols expected. You can expect even lower CO2 emissions, with a sub-100g/km model possible.

Even cleaner versions are likely, using alternative powertrains; concept cars have appeared at motor shows with both electric and petrol-electric hybrid powertrains. A plug-in hybrid is also likely.

BMW 1 Series 3dr
What is it? Same cabin space as five-door for a little less cash.
Price from 18,000 (est)
On sale Spring

Those with no need for the new 1 Series rear doors can save a little money in the spring, when the cheaper three-door version goes on sale. It sits on the same chassis as the recently launched five-door and gets the same engine line-up, including 1.6-litre turbocharged petrols and 2.0-litre turbodiesels.

This isnt the last new 1 Series on the horizon, either. BMW is planning new coup and convertible models, plus a GT version; it will offer a higher roofline for more cabin space, but will be available as a five-door only.