Audi plans to make 60,000 units a year of its newly launched five-door A3 Sportback, a direct rival to BMW’s new 1-series and a key addition to its small car offering, the German carmaker’s chairman reportedly said on Thursday.


Reuters said the A3 shares its chassis with the Volkswagen-Audi group’s most popular car, the Golf, but the new Sportback is slightly longer than previous five-door A3, and its strongest engine is 250 horsepower (184 kWh) – it also will offer a permanent four-wheel-drive option.


Audi plans an annual global output of some 100,000 A3s, of which 60% will be the new A3 Sportback model, chairman Martin Winterkorn told Reuters during a visit to Budapest’s Technical University after which he also visited Audi’s engine plant in Gyor, west Hungary.


“The annual output plan is some 100,000 A3s, of which 60% would be sportbacks,” Winterkorn reportedy said. “The plan is of course flexible, depending on demand.”


Winterkorn told Reuters production of the A3 Sportback began two weeks ago, but gave no financial details.


Winterkorn reportedly reaffirmed Audi’s commitment to Hungary – there has been market speculation that it could close its Gyor plant.


“We plan an output of between 1.4 and 1.5 million engines this year and this is Audi’s third most important production site after Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm,” he told Reuters, adding, however, that Audi was also looking to establish other production sites further east in Europe.


Audi Hungaria, the country’s largest single exporter, produced 1.35 million engines in 2003, Reuters noted.