It’s been a long time coming but a production-ready version of the Audi RS3 has finally been revealed.
Emissions regulations may have killed off the five-cylinder engine in the Ford Focus ST and RS, but that hasn’t stopped Audi from fitting the RS3 with a cleaner and considerably more powerful turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine. Total power output is an awesome 336bhp, meaning the Audi RS3 will become the most powerful production hot hatch when it goes on sale next year. There’s also a massive 450Nm of torque available from as low down as 1,600rpm.
As you’d expect from a fast Audi there is a Quattro four-wheel drive system transferring all of that grunt to the wheels, so traction won’t be an issue in the dry or the wet. Power is delivered through a seven speed S-Tronic dual-clutch transmission. The time for the 0-62mph sprint is quoted as just 4.6 seconds while top speed is electronically limited to 155mph (I suppose we’ve got to appease the Greens in some small way).
Audi are keen to point out that this is much more than an S3 with a new engine. The engine block is specially made from light but strong vermicular graphite, while the front wings are made from carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP). The chassis is lowered by 25mm compared with the standard A3 and comprises McPherson struts upfront and a four-link rear set-up, while a widened track (up to 1,564 millimetres) promises more composure and balance.
19-inch alloy wheels come as standard, shod with 235/35 series tyres at the front and 225/35 at the rear. Behind those tasty alloys are ventilated disc brakes measuring 370 millimetres in diameter at the front and 310 millimetres at the rear, gripped by four-piston fixed calipers painted in high-gloss black and bearing RS logos.
As befits an RS model, the RS3 has been pumped full of steroids to give it a suitably agressive stance. The front is dominated by huge air intakes and those flared wheel arches, while at the rear is a big spoiler and a set of twin exhaust pipes trimmed in chrome. Down the sides you’ll find sill extensions, silver door mirrors and those 19-inch alloys which come with a machine-polished titanium-effect finish, but a black finish with red rim inserts is also available as an option.
The award for Most Pointless feature goes to the Sport button. This opens up the valves in the exhaust system and allows that five-cylinder warble to be heard at full volume. It also sharpens up the throttle response, and begs the question – why do you need a button at all? It should be switched on at all times!
On the inside are sports seats trimmed in Fine Nappa leather with silver stitching, with a choice of Piano black or Aluminium Race look door inserts. There’s a flat-bottomed leather-trimmed RS steering wheel, and a new Driver’s Information System which displays boost pressure and oil temperature and doubles as a lap timer.
Standard equipment also includes rear parking sensors, electronic climate control, DVD-based sat-nav with multimedia interface and xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lights.
Should you want a fast Audi and have very deep pockets you’ll be able to order the 5-door RS3 Sportback from next month at a starting price of £39,900, with deliveries expected in April next year. No news on a 3-door version just yet.
The question is – will it drive like all fast Audis, or will it be fun?