Volkswagen AG's Audi has outlined details for the Audi RS3 Sportback, planned for European sale next March. The RS3 uses a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder gasoline direct-injection engine borrowed from the TT RS. With 340 hp and 332 lb-ft (450 newton meters), Audi's latest performance model offers 75 hp and 74 lb-ft more than the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder used by its S3 four-wheel-drive sibling.
The model, based on the company's popular A3 hatchback, will not be offered in the U.S. market.
The RS3 is likely to compete for sales with the upcoming BMW 1-series M coupe from BMW AG. While full details of the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder BMW M model, have not been revealed, it is clear the two will be fairly evenly matched on performance and, with Audi confirming a 49,900-euro sticker ($68,110) for the RS3 in Europe, on price, too. Distinguishing the RS3 from its less-powerful S3 sibling are a series of characteristic Audi Sport styling changes. The front end receives a deep new bumper with larger ducts and a honeycomb mesh grille insert. The wheel arches are also more heavily flared to accommodate widened tracks and standard 19-inch alloy wheels.
The uniquely styled wheels come with a machine-polished titanium look but are optionally available in black with a red rim flange. There also are aluminum-look mirror housings, widened sills beneath the doors, a new spoiler atop the tailgate and a new rear bumper with a diffuser-style valance intersected by twinned chromed tailpipes.
Single body style
Currently, Audi is only confirming a single body style, a four-door hatchback, or Sportback in Audi parlance. A three-door hatchback, such as that offered with the S3, may be added but is considered unlikely given that the current A3, upon which the new Audi is based, only has 18 months left to run before the introduction of an all-new third-generation model.
Channeling the power to the road is a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and multiplate clutch four-wheel-drive system. It nominally sends 40 percent of available drive to the front wheels and 60 percent to the rear, but it is also capable of apportioning up to 100 percent of drive to either the front or rear wheels.
The added traction from the four-wheel drive and a launch-control program integrated into the gearbox electrics makes the RS3 one of the fastest-accelerating hatchbacks ever put into volume production. Despite the inclusion of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic front fenders, the RS3 is not light at 3,472 pounds (1575kg), 132 pounds heavier than the S3. But with peak torque arriving at just 1,600 rpm, Audi claims its latest performance model can reach 62 mph (100kph) from standstill in just 4.6 seconds, 1.1 seconds faster than the S3. Top speed is limited to 155 mph.