First image and details of hot Audi A3 planned for 2012

Audi is aiming to take Europe’s hot hatch ranks by storm with a new twin-turbo 2.5-litre, five-cylinder RS3 performance model.

Read our first drive review of the new Audi R3 Sportback.

Set for launch towards the end of 2012, this rendered image shows the new four-wheel-drive hatchback, which forms part of a wider range of models based on the next A3, due in early 2011.

Click here to read about details of the new Audi A3

Click here to read about plans for a hybrid Audi A3

Fitted with a new seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and a torque-vectoring differential, the range-topping RS3 looks set to give the new Ford Focus RS and upcoming Renaultsport Mégane 250 some stiff competition as part of Audi’s effort to further extend the appeal of the A3 — a model that has proven vital to the company’s fortunes since its introduction back in 1996.

The Audi RS3’s engine, shared with the TT RS, produces 335bhp and 332lb ft of torque. It promises to provide the RS3 with the sort of performance to challenge the rapid BMW 135i Coupé, as well as the current hot hatch king, the Focus RS.

(Pic by Motor Forecast)

Our Verdict

As it stands, the A3 accounts for every fifth Audi registered worldwide

The Audi A3 is now in its third-generation and the premium hatchback ups the ante on quality once more

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