Audi RS3 races on the scene with 395bhp and drift mode
Audi has, finally, lifted the wraps and confirmed the full specification, details and prices of its all-new RS3. It’s available in two body styles. The five-door Sportback, which will take the battle to the likes of the Mercdes-AMG A 45 S; and the four-door saloon. When the RS3 goes on sale next month, prices will start at £50,900 for the Sportback, with the saloon starting at £51,900. First deliveries are scheduled for the end of the year.
There’s no getting away from the fact Audi has given the new RS3 its own personality: it has the widest grille I think I’ve ever seen on a car. The new single-frame grille comes complete with a honeycomb mesh for its large air intakes; these help cool the 395bhp 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged engine.
At each side of the grille sit standard-fit LED headlights. Of course, if you tick the comprehensive option sheet, you can upgrade to matrix LEDs which, cleverly, will depict a chequered flag RS3 logo on unlocking the car.
There’s no denying the RS3 — especially in hatchback form — makes a powerful statement, sitting squat on the road. The aggressive stance is accentuated by the car’s front wings, which feature large cut-out vents at the trailing edge of the panels. These help expel air from the engine bay.
Plus there are the bold, boxy flared wheel arches, synonymous with Audi’s RS models. These cover the car’s wider track width, which has been increased by 33mm over its predecessor on the front axle.
The proud stance is further highlighted by the redesigned black side skirts. Oh, and of course there’s the new 19-inch alloys with a 10-spoke Y design. Again, tick the right box and you can opt for five-spoke Y-design alloys.
View the RS3 from the rear, and the styling is dominated by a deep bumper which houses a central diffuser element, in addition to the RS3’s dual-exit sports exhaust. That exhaust also features a variable flap control linked to the car’s drive modes, so when you want it to be, it’ll be loud.
As always with a new top-end sporty model, the RS3 introduces two exclusive colours, Kyalami Green and Kemora Grey. And if you can’t put the options sheet down, you might find yourself tempted to tick the boxes for carbonfibre on the side skirts, door mirror caps, plus the tailgate roof or boot lip spoiler on the hatchback and the saloon respectively.
Inside the cabin there are specific RS sports seats — each with an embossed RS logo — with silver contrast stitching: green stitching can be added as an option. In true Audi fashion, there’s a flat-bottomed three-spoke steering wheel, plus there’s also zinc-plated shift paddles and more carbonfibre for the instrument panel.
The RS3 introduces new updates to Audi’s infotainment, with a bespoke RS skin for the car’s 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit. There’a also a digital dash featuring a a new ‘RS Runway’ option to display engine revs. Centrally-mounted, the 10.1-inch touchscreen features Audi’s RS Monitor; this shows information on temperatures of the engine, brakes, differential and gearbox, as well as tyre pressures.
Under the bonnet is Audi’s familiar 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder petrol engine, producing 395bhp and 369lb ft of torque; that’s up by 7lb ft compared with its predecessor. Bhp remains the same.
What Audi has done, however, is broaden the engine’s power band: it now produces its maximum from lower down in the rev range, 5,600rpm, and sustains it to a higher engine speed, now at 7,000rpm. Power is sent via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox to all four wheels which are catered for by a new quattro all-wheel drive system. However, select “RS Torque Rear" from the seven – yes, seven – drive modes and all that power will be sent to the rear wheels for what Audi calls “controlled drifts”.
Performance? Keep it in straight line and with launch control, the RS3 hits 62mph from standstill in just 3.8 seconds; that’s 0.3s faster than its predecessor. And if you tick the option boxes for the RS Dynamic package and carbon-ceramic brakes, it’ll accelerate through to 180mph.
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