The powered-up four-door, which goes under the name A3 Clubsport Quattro, is officially described as a concept. Audi development boss Ulrich Hackenberg has however hinted that elements of the new car will be seen on future production models, including an upcoming RS3 saloon slated for introduction in 2015.
At the heart of the Audi’s latest high-powered concept car is a heavily reworked version of the German manufacturer's turbocharged 2.5-litre direct-injection petrol engine – as fitted to the RS3 and TT RS in recent years. The five-cylinder unit has been extensively redeveloped to achieve previously unattained factory levels of power and torque.
Included among the modifications confirmed by Hackenberg is a larger turbocharger running 1.5bar of nominal boost pressure, a more efficient air-to-air intercooler and larger intake and exhaust manifolds.
Power has increased by a whopping 183bhp over the standard specification engine, rising from 335bhp to 518bhp. This provides Audi’s traditional five-cylinder unit with a stunning specific output of 207bhp per litre. Torque is also up by 112lb ft, swelling to a peak of 443lb ft between 2300rpm and 6000rpm.
With a claimed kerb weight of 1527kg, the new Audi concept boasts a power-to-weight ratio of 339bhp per tonne – exactly the same figure quoted for Audi’s range topping 542bhp 5.2-litre V10-powered R8 V10 Plus.
The prodigious reserves are channelled to all four wheels via a beefed-up version of Audi’s seven-speed S-tronic dual clutch automatic gearbox featuring a unique final drive and integral launch control function. It works with an electro-hydraulic Haldex-style multi-plate clutch four-wheel drive system described as being "suitably modified" to handle the additional torque loading.
Official performance claims suggest the A3 Clubsport quattro accelerates from 0-62mph in just 3.6sec and hits a top speed of 193mph, some 1.3sec and 38mph faster than Audi quotes for the 296bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder-powered S3 saloon.
Among the changes brought to the A3’s standard MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension is a 10mm reduction in nominal ride height and the adoption of firmer springs and dampers. In keeping with its extreme nature, the one-off concept also receives towering 21-inch wheels shod with ultra-low-profile 275/25 tyres.
The big wheels house brakes boasting 370mm carbon-ceramic discs and multi-pot aluminium calipers at each corner. They operate in combination with an air brake function integrated into the spoiler housed in the rear edge of the boot lid. Electronically actuated, it is programmed to work at braking speeds above 155mph and is claimed to reduce stopping distances by up to 12 metres by allowing the braking system to allocate more braking power to the rear axle due to the increased downforce it generates.
Building on the appearance of the standard S3, the A3 Clubsport Quattro receives a vivid Magnetic Blue paint scheme, a heavily restyled front bumper featuring a grille with a brushed aluminium frame and a high-gloss honeycomb insert, as well as sizeable air ducts, an integral carbonfibre splitter, distinctive LED headlights and widened front fenders.
Further back, there are carbonfibre sills underneath the doors, smaller mirror housings, widened rear arches and a deeper rear bumper housing two sizeable round chromed tailpipes and a large diffuser. The standard fuel filler flap has also been replaced by a more stylish aluminium element.