has turned up the heat for its A3 range with the launch of a new high performance Audi RS3 Sportback – the smallest Audi RS model ever. Powered by a turbocharged five-cylinder engine, the Audi RS3 accelerates from 0-62 mph in just 4.5 seconds.
Power output is 340PS and it is transmitted through a seven-speed S-tronic twin-clutch transmission and quattro four-wheel-drive. The Audi RS3 is marked out from its humbler siblings by 19-inch alloy wheels, flared lightweight carbon fibre-reinforced plastic wings covering wider set wheels.
Orders open next month (December) at £39,900 OTR, with first deliveries due in April 2011.
Alongside its headline performance figures, with a governed top speed of 155 mph, Audi quote a combined fuel consumption figure of 31 mpg and carbon dioxide emissions of 212 g/km.
The five-cylinder turbo engine in the RS3 was first seen in the Audi TT RS. A ‘Sport’ button sharpens the throttle response and also intensifies the exhaust note. The turbocharging technology has been designed to allow maximum torque of 405Nm to be available from around 1,600 rpm right through to 5,300 rpm.
The large turbocharger generates up to 1.2 bar of boost pressure, and downstream of it is an intercooler which, Audi says, achieves an efficiency rate of more than 80%.
The Audi RS3 incorporates a generative system that recovers energy as the car decelerates. Adding to the efficiency are the various weight-saving measures that include strong but light vermicular graphite for the engine block and carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) for the front wings. Together these help to keep the kerb weight of the new RS 3 down to 1,575 kg, resulting in a power-to-weight ratio of 216PS per tonne.
The RS 3 Sportback is lowered by 25 mm compared with the standard A3. The track is widened to 1,564 millimetre track, with those 19-inch alloy wheels. The standard wheel finish is a machine-polished titanium look, but for those who want to stand out even more, a black finish with red rim inserts is also available as an option.
The quattro permanent four-wheel-drive system has the electronically controlled multi-plate clutch, mounted at the end of the propeller shaft to achieve a favourable axle load distribution. Power is distributed to each axle as needed.
Inside, sports seats are upholstered in Nappa leather with silver contrasting stitching, and inlays are finished in Piano black or the new ‘Aluminium Race’ look. A flat-bottomed RS steering wheel and special design for the instruments and S-tronic selector lever distinguish the interior of the RS.