Well, this is awkward, isn’t it? There’s an all-new RS3 to talk about, and yet, we don’t have a whole lot of new stuff to tell you. Audi got a bit ahead of itself and revealed pretty much everything a few weeks ago, from performance stats to the trick all-wheel drive system.
Now, though, we know what it looks like. The answer is, we think, rather smashing. It’s a purposeful, handsome brute, especially in saloon form and daubed in Kyalami Green. We’re particularly digging those beefy front brake ducts.
As already revealed, the old car’s 2.5-litre inline-five turbo has been retained, along with its warbly 1-2-4-5-3 firing order. Power hasn’t changed at 395bhp, although the torque has been bumped up by 15lb ft to 369. Audi’s justification is that the car doesn’t really need any more, and you can’t argue with that considering this thing does 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds, three tenths faster than the last RS3.
That figure also makes it a tenth brisker than the Mercedes-AMG A45, crowning the RS3 as the quickest accelerating standard hot hatch on sale right now. Confusingly meanwhile, there are three top speeds. It’s 155mph as standard, but the limiter can be upped to 174mph via a cost option. Alternatively, the RS Dynamic Package lifts this to 180.
Power goes to each end of the car via a beefed-up seven-speed ‘S Tronic’ dual-clutch automatic gearbox and a fancy new all-wheel drive system. The latter features something called a ‘Torque Splitter’, which is Audi’s version of the VW Golf R‘s ‘R-Performance Torque Vectoring’ system. It’s the same part, but with Audi’s own software setup.
It uses a pair of multi-disc clutch packs, one for each rear wheel. The system can fully vary the torque output between not just each axle, but the rear wheels too. In theory, if set to the drift-friendly ‘RS Torque rear’ mode, the RS3 will send 100 per cent to a single rear wheel.
Delve deep enough within the press release, and there are a few things that constitute ‘news’ other than the looks. For instance, the front track is 33mm wider on both the saloon and Sportback models, while the latter gets a 10mm increase at the back too. As already revealed (you’ll probably sensing a theme here), the RS3 is 25mm lower than an A3, featuring stiffer front wishbones, bespoke subframes and an extra degree of negative camber.
While showing off the exterior styling for the first time, Audi has given us a proper look at the cabin also. In there, we have a special RS redesign for the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit screen with a snazzy ‘RS Runway’ rev counter. Just to the side of that is a 10.1-inch infotainment system with ‘RS Monitor’, which helps the driver check how toasty the brake/diff/gearbox and engine are getting while also keeping an eye on tyre pressures.
Want one? In the UK, the starting price is £50,900 for the Sportback and £51,900 for the saloon, so expect to pay more like £60,000 once some options are added. A box we won’t get to tick here is the one for Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R semi-slick tyres - probably for the best given how much rain we get. The RS3 will be available to order in both body styles from August, with the first deliveries starting by the end of 2021.