The facelifted Audi RS 3 Saloon and Audi RS 3 Sportback borrow the uprated five-cylinder engine of the new TT-RS with 400PS of power to deliver 0 to 100 km/h acceleration of just 4.1 seconds. Both will be available to order in Europe from April, but there is no word yet on UK prices.
The most powerful series-production five-cylinder in the world – the 2.5 TFSI – provides propulsion in both the facelifted Audi RS 3 Sportback and the new Audi RS 3 Sedan, which is the first compact notchback Audi with an RS badge. It delivers 400PS – 33 more than the predecessor engine – and is 26 kg lighter, thanks to an aluminium crankcase. Its maximum torque of 480 Nm is available at engine speeds as low as 1,700 rpm and remains constant up to 5,850 rpm.
The S tronic seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and quattro permanent all-wheel drive transfer the power of the five cylinders to the road. Meanwhile, the electro-hydraulic multiplate clutch distributes the drive torque variably between the axles. The sportier the driving, the faster and more often a large share of the torque reaches the rear axle. The quattro management is integrated as a standard feature in the Audi drive select dynamic handling system, as are the steering, S tronic, the engine management, the adjustable exhaust flaps, and the optional RS sport suspension plus with adaptive damper control. The driver can individually vary the operation of these components between the comfort, auto, dynamic and individual modes. Handling is perfected by the Electronic Stabilization Control (ESC) with wheel-selective torque control and the sport mode with RS-specific tuning.
Together with progressive steering, the four-link rear axle, and the tight suspension setup lowered by 25 mm relative to the A3, the RS 3 combines fascinating dynamism with superior stability. Compared to that of the series-production model, the track width at the front axle of the RS 3 is wider by 20 mm and accordingly, the wheel arches are also more broadly flared. As standard, Audi equips the vehicle with 19-inch cast wheels fitted with 235/35 tyres, and brake discs with a diameter of 370 mm. As an option, customers can choose carbon-fibre ceramic discs at the front. At the rear axle, brake discs with a diameter of 310 mm and floating brake callipers are used.
The power of the compact top athletes is visible at first glance – with striking elements such as the quattro logo along the bottom of the Singleframe, the newly designed blade in the bumper and the wider wheel arches. The RS 3 Sportback is characterised further by chiseled sill panels. At the rear, a diffuser insert and the RS exhaust system’s large oval tailpipes are sure to turn heads everywhere. Whilst the sculpted rear of the Sportback is dominated by a striking RS roof edge spoiler, the boot lid of the Saloon ends on an RS specific spoiler lip. LED headlights with their distinctive lighting signature are standard for both models, and Audi offers headlights with Matrix LED technology as an option.
In the interior, sport seats upholstered in black fine Nappa leather reflect the dynamic character of the vehicle; more sharply contoured RS sport seats are also optionally available. The RS sport leather steering wheel has a flattened bottom section and features buttons for operating the infotainment system. The main control element is the rotary/push-button control on the console of the centre tunnel, which can be fitted with a touchpad if desired. This enables the driver to scroll, zoom and enter text. Also included is a free text search that automatically completes the user’s input after just a few letters have been entered. The voice control system processes questions and commands formulated in everyday spoken language. All of the displays are clear and easily legible. The two circular instrument dials are black with red needles and white scales, emphasising the vehicle’s sporty character. The centrally positioned driver information system includes a boost pressure indicator, an oil thermometer and a lap timer. Available as an option is the Audi virtual cockpit – the fully digital instrument cluster. A special RS screen puts the focus on the rev counter and provides information about tire pressure, torque and g-forces. In the manual mode of S-tronic, a scale with a colour background prompts the driver to use the steering wheel paddle or selector lever to upshift when approaching maximum revs.
The infotainment of the Audi RS 3 also boasts high-tech features. Using LTE, Audi connect delivers the brand’s diverse range of Internet services into the car. Using the Wi-Fi hotspot, passengers can surf the web using their tablet, smartphone, etc. The Audi phone box wirelessly links the smartphone to the vehicle’s antenna, whilst inductively charging the phone at the same time. With a 705-watt output and 14 loudspeakers, the Bang & Olufsen Sound System produces an excellent sound experience. Three new driver assistance systems complete the comprehensive offering: in many situations, traffic jam assist briefly takes over steering. The emergency assist brings the vehicle to a standstill automatically if required, and cross traffic assist rear monitors the road for crossing traffic when manoeuvring out of parking spaces.
Both RS3 models will be available to order in Europe from April with market launch schedules for August. The base price for the Audi RS 3 Sportback in Europe is 54,600 euros, and the Audi RS 3 Saloon is listed at 55,900 euros. No UK prices are yet available.