Audi has published the first official preview images of its upcoming RS3 hot hatchback and saloon, suggesting a reveal is imminent.
Shown in camouflage as part of the wider Audi Sport line-up, the RS3 hatchback and RS3 Sportback are shown in production-ready guise, wearing a promotional wrap emblazoned with the sequence 1-2-4-5-3, likely a reference to the firing order of its five-cylinder powerplant.
The RS3 is set to use the same turbocharged five-cylinder unit as its larger RS Q3 sibling and the TT RS Coupé. It will send 394bhp to both axles and should get the car from zero to 62mph in around 4.0sec.
That output will place the RS3 among the most powerful models in its segment, second only to the Mercedes-AMG A45 S, which uses the most powerful four-cylinder engine in production, with 416bhp.
As expected, visual modifications over the warmed-up S3 - revealed last year - are subtle, extending to more aggressive intakes, bespoke alloy wheels and a unique rear diffuser and spoiler. However, bespoke interior cues that reference its higher output, as well as larger brakes and wider tyres, are likely.
The pictures accompanied an official interview with new Audi Sport managing director Sebastian Grams, who reflected on his first three months in the position and hinted at what is to come: "Our mission is to push the limits of what’s possible – that’s what Audi Sport is all about. And I’m positive that this will continue to be the case in the future."
He later confirmed that plug-in hybrid Audi Sport models are inbound as part of the division's electrification process, as well as new all-electric models to accompany the RS E-tron GT.
Audi Sport's sales and marketing boss, Rolf Michl, added: "We expect to offer more than half of our high-performance models in partially or fully electrified form as early as 2024. And by 2026, this figure will likely even be as high as 80%. We want to offer our customers the right products and services for their specific markets and segments."
High-performance electrified SUVs are of particular interest to Audi Sport, according to Michl, and by 2030, all Audi Sport models will be either plug-in hybrid or fully electric.
The RS3 will, therefore, be among the last non-electrified Audi performance models and could be the final outing for the brand's in-line five-cylinder engine, which has been used in various forms since the Audi 100 was launched in 1976.