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Audi Sport has officially revealed the third-generation RS3, with the new hyper hatch and sedan set to rocket into Australian showrooms in the first half of next year with a five-cylinder engine, quattro all-wheel drive (AWD) with a tail-happy drift mode, and aggro styling inside and out.
As reported, the latest RS3 carries over its predecessor’s famous 2.5-litre turbo-petrol five-cylinder engine, with peak power the same as before, at 294kW, although it now arrives 250rpm earlier, at 5600rpm, while on the way to a 7000rpm redline. Meanwhile, maximum torque is up 20Nm, to 500Nm, with it on tap from 2250-5600rpm.
In tandem with a tweaked seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the fresh RS3 sprints from a standstill to 100km/h in a mere 3.8 seconds (-0.3s), making it 0.1s quicker to triple digits than the rivalling Mercedes-AMG A45 S, irrespective of the body-style (Sportback hatchback or Sedan).
Furthermore, the new RS3’s top speed can be optionally increased to an impressive 290km/h, which is 20km/h faster than the A45 S’ best. For reference, terminal velocity is electronically limited to 250km/h as standard, and a 280km/h option is also available.
And when it comes to the drift mode, the fresh RS3 moves on from its predecessor’s front-biased Haldex version of Audi’s signature AWD system, with it instead using a Magna-sourced RS Torque Splitter rear axle.
This set-up has a mechanical differential with independent electronically controlled multi-plate clutches for each driveshaft, enabling it to send up to 100 per cent of drive to either of the rear wheels when the RS Torque Steer (aka drift) mode is engaged.
An RS Performance setting is also on hand, with it being an even sharper version of the ubiquitous Dynamic mode. It’s optimised for genuine racetrack driving, placing the focus on balanced handling while reducing understeer.
The latest RS3 is also headlined by the availability of a now fully variable exhaust system, adaptive dampers (in place of the preceding magnetic items), carbon-ceramic brakes and Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R semi-slick tyres as well as increased negative camber and wider tracks.
Styling-wise, the new RS3 takes the A3 it’s based upon to the next level with optional Matrix LED headlights with darkened bezels and ‘digital’ daytime running lights, which can display ‘RS3’ lettering and a chequered flag.
That said, a prominent version of Audi’s trademark Singleframe grille steals all the attention up front, with it featuring a chunky mesh insert and surrounded by a thick border. Enlarged air intakes round out the aggressive look to the sides.
Speaking of, the fresh RS3’s side is punctuated by a new feature for Audi Sport models: air intakes integrated into the blistered front wheel arches. Skirt extensions link the sporty-looking 19-inch alloy wheels from there on.
At the rear, the latest RS3 keeps dialling up the aggression with a diffuser and dual oval-shaped exhaust tailpipes, while the surrounding bumpers has a high-set mesh insert of its own. And yes, carbon-fibre exterior trim can be had.
Inside, the 10.1-inch central touchscreen, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and windshield-projected head-up display are powered by an RS version of Audi’s multimedia system, complete with unique features like acceleration and lap timers.
A flat-bottom steering wheel with a 12 o’clock marker, front sports seats with embossed headrests, Nappa leather upholstery with honeycomb stitching, carbon-fibre interior trim and coloured accents are also in tow to round out the main upgrades.