AUDI has revealed its latest high-performance model, the new RS 3, in hatchback and saloon body styles.
A significant restyle sets the RS 3 models apart from both the standard Audi A3 and the sporty S3, including a prominent new design of radiator grille with larger air intakes and black detailing.
Audi will offer the RS 3 in four distinct variations across the two body types – standard, Carbon, Launch Edition and Vorsprung.
All versions are fitted with LED headlights and rear lights, with ‘dynamic’ indicators, while those above base level get matrix LED headlights that can dip around cars in front and come with darkened surrounds that visually meld with the black grille up front for an even more menacing appearance.
The daytime running lights, consisting of 15 LED segments on each side, can put on a light show, too, displaying chequered flags and even spelling out the name of the car.
In terms of dimensions, the RS 3 sits 25mm closer to the ground than the regular Audi A3 and it has much wider tracks, too (the distance between the wheels on each axle).
The increase in width at the front of the car is emphasised by a new air outlet aft of the front wheels, which is incorporated into a sportier side sill design.
At the back, the RS 3 saloon features a distinctive boot lip spoiler, while the Sportback has a roof spoiler. Both cars are fitted with a new rear bumper and aerodynamic diffuser, with two large oval exhaust outlets.
Inside, a new take on the Audi ‘virtual cockpit’ digital dashboard is standard, focusing on performance displays, including power and torque as percentages, and acceleration times.
When the manual mode of the transmission is selected, the digital rpm display in front of the driver changes from green to yellow to red and then blinks to prompt the driver to change up a gear. This feature can be added to the optional head-up display, too.
A three-spoke RS sport multifunction leather steering wheel with a flattened bottom is fitted as standard, featuring diecast zinc gearchange paddles and a button to quickly access the RS driving modes.
Depending on options, buyers can have a completely round steering wheel if they prefer, or one with a red stripe at the 12 o’clock position.
Power for the RS 3 comes from a turbocharged five-cylinder petrol engine – it maxes out at 394bhp and 368 lb ft of torque, and enables a 0-62mph time of just 3.8sec.
Top speed is 174mph for the Launch Edition and Vorsprung versions, and 155mph for the others. An upgrade to the RS Dynamic package increases that to 180mph, while also adding ceramic brakes.
All models in the RS 3 range feature four-wheel drive, including an advanced new rear differential (which helps split power to the wheels while cornering) called the RS Torque Splitter, along with a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The differential allows precise balancing of traction and engine output and there’s even a new RS Torque Rear driving setting that is a drift mode by any other name.
Drivers can also choose between RS Performance, auto, dynamic, RS Individual and efficiency settings, which alter things like the variable-ratio power steering, throttle response, exhaust sound and, if fitted, the optional adaptive damping system.
Prices for the 2021 Audi RS 3 start at £50,900 for the Sportback and £51,900 for the saloon, with order books open in August ahead of first UK deliveries later in 2021.