The 2015 Audi RS3 Sportback will do 0-60mph in 4.3 seconds

Audi has released details for the hot five door Audi RS3 Sportback – a four-wheel drive, 362hp super hatch that’s aiming directly at the Mercedes A45 AMG.

The last RS3 was based on the previous generation A3, so this latest version carries many improvements that the newest platform offers. As a result, the 2015 RS3 is claimed to be faster, lighter, safer and more refined than before.

What powers it?

The 2.5-litre turbo charged unit is carried over from the old RS3, and with it, the wonderful five-cylinder sound that testers and petrolheads love. One change immediately noticeable to drivers will be the introduction of flaps in the exhaust pipes, which open on heavy throttle opening to enhance the noise further. That isn’t all Audi changed though. Thanks to various tweaks, power has risen by 22hp, to 362hp. Torque now stands at 343lb ft.

This boost in power, combined with both a 55kg reduction in weight and a quicker-shifting seven-speed dual clutch gearbox, means that the latest RS3 will hit 62 from a standstill in 4.3 seconds, an improvement of 0.2 seconds over the old one. It means it’ll be very, very fast.

Conveniently, it also means that this figure is identical to that of its closest rival, the Mercedes A45 AMG. Top speed is limited to 155, but that can be optionally lifted to 174mph.

Some of the upgrades to the engine have improved efficiency too. The motor is now compliant with the latest EU emissions regulations, and the RS3 will now return a claimed 34.8mpg – an improvement of nearly 3mpg over the last version.

What else is new?

Previous Audi RS models have been criticised for a sightly nose heavy feel, which leads to understeer (the wheels pushing wide in fast corners) when driving enthusiastically. Audi’s answer to this is to adjust the four-wheel drive system so that between 50 and 100 per cent of torque is sent to the rear wheels at all times. With the Electronic stability control system set into Sport mode, Audi even claims a spot of drifting is possible…

The suspension set-up is unique to the RS3. Bespoke aluminium and high strength steel components are designed to handle high cornering loads, and optional magnetic dampers offer instant and adjustable control depending on road conditions. Huge 370mm brake disks at the front are gripped by eight-piston callipers, so stopping sharply shouldn’t ever be a problem. As an option, carbon ceramic brakes are available, which should be more resistant to fade under extreme (i.e track) use.

There are numerous styling changes to set the RS3 apart from the regular A3 Sportback. At the front, a new bumper houses two huge air dams beneath each headlight, and are framed by a large swooping ‘blade’ of matt aluminium running the width of the bumper. The familiar Audi grille features large Quattro lettering at the base to make its performance intentions clear. Along the flanks, 19 inch wheels sit beneath the arches, and the car rides 25mm closer to the ground, while the details are finished with aluminium door mirrors and roof rails. Around the back, huge twin tailpipes are housed within a re-profiled bumper, and a larger spoiler sits on the leading edge of the rear window.

The interior gains some typical RS touches to add to the sporty feel. A flat-bottomed steering wheel sits ahead of the driver, and new front sports seats – made from carbon fibre and trimmed in leather – save seven kilos each compared to the standard seats. Fancier pedals, sportier dials and glossier trim complete the look.

Any alternatives?

The previously mentioned Mercedes A45 AMG is the RS3′s closest competitor, but the likes of the BMW M135i and Volkswagen Golf R would also be well worth considering.

When can I buy one?

The RS3 Sportback will be available to order from March, and deliveries start in the summer. Prices have yet to be announced.

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