These are the best spy pictures yet of new the Audi RS3, the firm’s twin-turbo 335bhp mega-hatch that’s tipped to reach showrooms by 2012.
The Audi A3 will be replaced late next year and the RS3 will become the flagship of the range when it launches a year later.
The test mule has been spied before but it has always sported bodywork from the S3. The mule spied here at the Nurburgring is the first time the RS3 mule has been captured with Audi’s RS front bumper. It features larger wheels with lower profile tyres than the S3 and should also benefit from wider tracks and flared arches. The pictures also reveal a retractable rear spoiler, although its mechanism seems far from conventional.
Audi had been tipped to launch an RS3 as a run-out model for the current range at the Frankfurt motor show last year, but it never materlised and Audi will instead wait until the next generation model arrives for an RS model.
Power will come from the twin-turbo 2.5-litre five-pot engine from the TT-RS, producing 335bhp and 332lb ft of torque. The hatch will be all-wheel drive and should be capable of 0-62mph in 4.5sec and a top speed in excess of 160mph.
A new seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and a torque-vectoring differential are also expected to feature.
The new RS3 will be one of several new variants of the next-generation A3 as Audi aims to broaden the appeal of its premium hatchback, a model that has proven vital to the company’s fortunes since its introduction back in 1996.
The RS3 will rival mega-hatches including the Ford Focus RS500 and the forthcoming BMW 1-series M coupe.