The range-topping model is set to take its power from the same turbocharged five-cylinder 2.5-litre petrol engine as the new RS Q3 performance SUV. The 394bhp output of this unit will make the RS3 one of the most powerful cars in its segment, just below the 416bhp Mercedes-AMG A45 S.
The RS3 is likely to improve on the larger RS Q3’s 4.5sec 0-62mph time, potentially taking it below 4.0sec. It could also be capable of beating its 174mph top speed, although RS models are traditionally electronically limited to 155mph as standard.
The prototype in these images wears much less camouflage than we've seen before, previewing how the RS3 will be differentiated from the standard A3, which is due to arrive in dealerships in May.
Its alloy wheels are considerably larger than those of the standard car and are wrapped in much lower-profile tyres. The RS3’s potential is further hinted at by large, ventilated brake discs and a pair of classic RS-style large-bore tailpipes.
The front end features the latest iteration of Audi’s corporate grille design, with the aggressive lower air intake styling aping those of the new RS6 Avant flagship and recently facelifted RS4 Avant.
Audi has yet to confirm a launch date for the RS3, but it can be expected to follow some way behind the regular A3 Saloon, which is set to enter production in September.
Audi Sport’s line of RS performance models is as varied as it has ever been, with performance variants of the TT, A3, A4, A5, A6, A7, Q3 and Q3 Sportback currently on offer. The range is now headed up by the new RS Q8, which packs 592bhp from a twin-turbocharged mild-hybrid 4.0-litre petrol V8.