Audi has ushered in a raft of design, technology and powertrain upgrades for the new, third-generation version of its hardcore RS3 mega-hatch.
Revealed in hatchback and saloon forms, the RS3 will go on sale in August, priced from £50,900 and £51,900, respectively, with the first customer deliveries due towards the end of the year.
Audi’s venerable 2.5-litre turbocharged five-pot motor, named an International Engine of the Year on nine consecutive occasions, returns for the new arrival. As in the RS3’s larger RS Q3 sibling, it sends 395bhp through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox to both axles. That’s sufficient to propel both the hatchback and saloon from standstill to 62mph in just 3.8sec and to an optional maximum speed of 174mph – figures that just edge Mercedes-AMG’s 416bhp A45 S 4Matic for outright pace.
With 369lb ft of torque – 20lb ft more than the old car – available at 2250- 5600rpm, the new RS3 is claimed to accelerate “even faster from low ranges” than its predecessor. Its maximum power output is available over a wider rev band, too.
Audi also highlights the “incomparable sound” provided by the motor’s unique 1-2-4-5-3 cylinder firing order, with a new noise-control flap in the exhaust opening at different points in the rev range according to the selected driving mode and an optional RS sports exhaust available for an “enhanced” engine note.
New for the third-gen RS3 is a torque splitter device, replacing the old car’s rear differential, which comprises a pair of electronically controlled multi-disc clutches to better distribute power across the rear axle. As well as reducing understeer under hard cornering, the new technology allows for “controlled drifts” in RS Torque Rear mode by sending up to 1291lb ft of torque to each rear wheel as required.
Chassis upgrades over the old car extend to more responsive shock absorbers with an RS3-specific valve system, increased wheel camber for more precise steering and a modular vehicle dynamics controller (mVDC), which monitors lateral movement across drivetrain and suspension components to better modulate torque output.