It’s official – the Audi RS 3 Sportback exists. Audi’s dramatic rise over the past few years has been stunning to watch. Thankfully, it has also resulted in a lot of new vehicles tailored to enthusiasts.
Audi has paid particular attention to honing its performance credentials – the recently-introduced R8 GT and United States-bound RS5 and TT-RS are just a few examples of such. RS models are the most potent flavor of Audi’s performance lineup, and the compact A3 is the latest model to get the treatment.
If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that Audi’s announcement of the RS3 comes before BMW drops its announcement of the much-anticipated 1-Series M. Audi has something of a rivalry going on with BMW and the two are intended to compete in the same category, although the Audi will have a hatch and extra set of doors.
The exterior gets the usual RS changes, with a an aggressive but sophisticated look. There are new Xenon plus headlights, a redesigned front apron with large intakes and a new single-frame anthracite grille with a diamond pattern. There are also subtle flared fenders made from carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP). Wild? No, but that isn’t Audi’s style
The RS3 is powered by the same engine as the TT-RS, a turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder unit working in concert with Audi’s S Tronic 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The engine makes 340 horsepower and 331 pound feet of torque. That torque figure is particularly impressive, especially in a car of this size. While the standard A3 is front-wheel drive, the RS3 puts the power to the road through Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system. The RS3 hits 62 mph in just 4.6 seconds, and is electronically-limited to a top speed of 155 mph.
The suspension has been suitably upgraded, with a widened 61.57 inch front track and the addition of a McPherson strut made with aluminum components to save weight. Out back a new four-link suspension with a 60.16 inch track features features, and it is made from high-strength steel control arms that Audi says allow it to “handle longitudinal and lateral forces separately.
The setup is lowered by 1-inch versus the A3, and the RS3 is equipped with stiffer springs and shock absorbers to handle all that power.
The are no pictures yet but Audi says the interior is all-black, covered in Fine Nappa leather with silver-contrast stitching. The steering wheel is flat-bottomed and interior trim is your choice of Piano Black or a new “Aluminum Race” look.
Five exterior colors are available, along with an unlimited selection of custom paint finishes. So far Audi has sent the TT-RS and RS5 over to our shores from Europe, but with a price tag of about 49,900 euros (about $68,000 USD at current exchange rates) we wouldn’t expect this one to joining them anytime soon. The first RS3 deliveries are slated to begin in Germany early next year.