The new Audi RS3 is available for the first time in hatchback and saloon bodystyles. With its five-cylinder turbo engine now uprated to a shade under 400bhp, the RS3 reclaims its title as the most powerful hot hatch on sale as well as becoming the most powerful small saloon on the market.
Both bodystyles will be available globally, with Audi anticipating a 60:40 sales split in favour of the five-door Sportback version. The RS3 will be available to order in April this year with deliveries due to commence in August.
The previous RS3’s combination of handsome styling, muscular straight-line performance and cabin quality made it a hit with buyers, but its one-dimensional dynamics proved less popular among keen drivers.
The familiar 2.5-litre five-cylinder single turbo engine has been heavily revised for this latest RS3. Peak power is 395bhp, an increase of 33bhp on the previous model, while torque is rated at 354lb ft between 1700 and 5850rpm.
Audi quotes a launch control-assisted 0-62mph time of 4.1 seconds and 155mph flat out, which can be lifted to 174mph if you tick the correct box on the options list.
The TFSI unit uses a dual injection system, which can inject fuel directly into the combustion chamber as well as into the intake manifold to improve performance and efficiency, depending on the driving style. The cylinders are plasma coated to reduce friction and the crankshaft is now hollow bored, saving 1kg.
In fact, Audi has worked hard in a number of areas to reduce the weight of engine. An aluminium crankcase has helped to trim 26kg away from the five-pot, which not only reduces the weight of the car as a whole but also improves weight distribution. The only transmission option is a seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch gearbox. Drive is sent to all four wheels via a quattro four-wheel drive system that can send between 50 and 100 per cent of the engine’s torque to the rear axle. Audi says that makes the RS3 more engaging and playful than ever.
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