What is it?
As it rolls out of the factory, the RS3 hardly seems short on performance, with a thumping 395bhp five-cylinder engine and sub-4.0sec 0-60mph time. But tuning company Litchfield is in the business of making fast cars even faster, and that’s exactly what it has done to Audi’s mid-sized rocketship.
The headline figure is 500bhp, but the uplift in torque output - from 354lb ft to a massive 484lb ft - almost certainly has an even more profound effect on the way the RS3 slingshots itself along a road. You might be thinking Litchfield’s engine-builders must have thrown everything they had at the RS3's five-pot - bigger turbo, uprated exhaust system, reinforced internals. The works.
But, in fact, all it’s taken to liberate 105bhp and 130lb ft from the 2.5-litre engine is a remap, a new air filter and a bigger intercooler. That’s it. Little wonder Iain Litchfield calls it "one of the best engines we’ve ever modified".
He says the previous RS3 motor was good but reckons this new unit is on a different level altogether. His theory is that manufacturers are being so hamstrung by emissions regulations these days that the only way they can make their high-performance engines efficient enough to pass the tests while also producing the necessary power is to really overload them with high-end tech, such as high-flow exhaust systems.