Audi has released photos and full details of its new RS3 Sportback ahead of the hatcback’s reveal at the Geneva Motor Show next March. The compact performance car is the Volkswagen Group’s answer to the Mercedes-Benz CLA45 and BMW M235i, serving as the range-topping model in the A3 lineup.
Under the hood of the hot hatch is Audi’s 2.5-liter five-cylinder turbocharged engine, producing 362 horsepower and 343 lb-ft of torque. This represents a bump of 32 horsepower and 11 lb-ft over the first-generation RS3. The powerplant cements the car as the most powerful car in the compact premium segment and continues “a long tradition of five-cylinder engines at Audi,” technical chief Ulrich Hackenberg said.
A seven-speed S tronic automatic transmission sends power to Audi’s permanent torque vectoring all‑wheel drive system, which is capable of delivering between 50 and 100 percent of the engine’s power to the rear wheels when needed.. The package translates to a 0-62 mph time of 4.3 seconds and a limited top speed of 155 mph, however the limiter can be removed upon the customers request, raising the top speed to 174 mph.
Underpinning the RS3 Sportback is an updated version of Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform, which has been worked over with more hot-formed high-strength steel components. These changes, along with an aluminum hood, have helped Audi shave 121 lbs (55 kg) from the car compared to the first RS3. There’s also now an optional magnetic ride system with adaptive damping, controlled through Audi’s adjustable select drive system.
The standard brake system on the RS3 consists of large 14-inch steel discs up front with 12-inch discs in the rear, however the RS3 Sportback is available with carbon ceramic discs measuring 14-inches at all four corners, a first in the compact premium segment. Five-spoke 19-inch wheels measuring 235mm all around are standard, however 19-inch alloy wheels with 255mm fronts are available in a variety of finishes.
Inside the RS3 benefits from standard leather sport seats, an Alcantara-wrapped flat bottom steering wheel, stainless steel pedals, aluminum trim, a leather-wrapped gear lever and Alcantara door elements. There is also optional RS bucket seats with a carbon-fiber shell, saving another 15 lbs, and a red-accent interior design package.
Audi is expected to release pricing details closer to the RS3’s official debut in Geneva. The car will hit European Audi showrooms by summer of next year and sorry, America, but Audi has no plans to bring the car to the United States at this time.