Audi has released full UK details for the upcoming RS3 Sportback. The most powerful compact hatchback on sale today aims to continue the fight with the Mercedes A45 AMG and BMW M135i, and has even more power than before.
Here we take a look at the five most interesting things about the new hottest of hatchbacks on sale in the UK.
It’ll cost from £39,950 when it goes on sale in March 2015
That makes it £1,695 more pricey than the Mercedes A45 AMG, though in either case you’re unlikely to pay that. Both models come with a range of styling, infotainment and mechanical upgrade packages which can quite easily add £5-10,000 onto that figure.
For such a potent car, running costs should be almost bearable. If you’re able to match the claimed fuel economy figures, 34.8mpg should be achievable in everyday driving.
Audi generally produces aggressive looking sporty versions of its normal cars, and with the RS3 Sportback they have knocked things up another notch. The front grille is finished in gloss black with a honeycomb mesh, while full-LED headlamps light the road ahead. Flared wheel arches house 19-inch alloy wheels, while matt aluminium-look door mirror covers and a large rear wing set the most potent A3 Sportback variant apart from the rest of the range.
Inside, a figure-hugging set of leather sports seats are fitted as standard, while the RS-specific flat bottomed steering wheel makes an appearance. Smatterings of sporty alcantara trim are set into the door inserts, and additional boost pressure gauges and a lap timer hint further at the performance potential.
The 2.5-litre turbocharged unit is a bit of a corker. Combined with the Quattro all-wheel drive system, it helps the RS3 crack the 0-62mph sprint in a rather bonkers 4.3 seconds – that’s 0.3 seconds quicker than the last RS3. Tick the correct box on the options list, and top speed is raised from a limited 155mph to 174mph. Even more importantly, that four-wheel-drive will help you out on wet British roads and in wintry conditions.
Special butterfly valves in the exhaust open up under hard acceleration to allow the driver to bettter hear the most powerful five cylinder production engine in Audi’s history. Power is transmitted to the road via a seven speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which has been tweaked for even faster shifts.
The all-wheel-drive system has been altered to counteract the slightly nose heavy feel of RS models of recent times. Depending on grip levels, between 50 and 100 percent of torque will be sent to the rear wheels, and in sport mode it is more willing to send the power rearwards.
An uprated suspension set up comprises of a widened track, lightweight aluminium components and a variable ratio electric power steering system. Optional extras include magnetically-controlled adaptive dampers and –the first time in this class – carbon ceramic brake dics.
The closest competitor to the RS3 Sportback is the Mercedes A45 AMG. Like the Audi, it is a 350hp-plus all-wheel drive five door hatchback, and the performance figures are equally as startling. Testers note that the firm ride lets it down slightly, even if it is still devastatingly capable on a twisty road.
BMW’s recently-updated M135i has to be a consideration too. Sending all of the power produced by a 3.0-litre turbocharged straight six to the rear wheels, testers are a big fan of the balanced chassis, even if outright performance can’t quite match the others.
Check back in March, when – all being well – the RS3 will be on sale through carwow’s network of top-quality approved Audi dealers.