Audi has ushered in a raft of design, technology and powertrain upgrades for the new, third-generation version of its hardcore RS3 mega-hatch.
Available to order now ahead of customer deliveries beginning in November, the Sportback and Saloon are priced from £50,900 and £51,900 respectively, each packing 395bhp and enhanced dynamics over the old car courtesy of its new torque-splitter device, which can be configured in a dedicated Drift mode.
Four specifications are available: the Carbon Black package brings black and carbonfibre-finished trim elements from £55,550, the limited-run Launch Edition (of which only 96 examples are UK-bound) is priced from £56,900 to account for its raft of extra equipment and derestricted 174mph top speed, while the range-topping Vorsprung car ticks nearly all the option boxes for £58,650.
On top of that, customers can specify the RS Dynamic pack from £5000, which brings adaptive suspension, ceramic brakes with gloss grey calipers, a sports exhaust and a top speed of 180mph.
Last week, Audi confirmed that the new RS3 is now a lap record holder in the 'compact' class at the Nürburgring, having set a lap time of 7mins 40.75secs - beating the Renault Mégane RS Trophy R by 0.25 seconds. The record was set by development driver Frank Stippler, who was piloting an RS3 Sportback equipped with adaptive suspension, ceramic brakes and optional semi-slick tyres, which are not available in the UK.
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.