Audi RS3 Sportback unveiled – 270kW of A45 bating glory:

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Audi’s new RS3 has been long awaited, especially since the Mercedes-Benz A45 hit the market with 265kW, 4WD and some pretty incredible sprint times to back it up.  The RS3 has been unveiled, guns blazing, and has even outdone AMG on the power front with figures of 270kW and 465Nm from a refined 2.5-litre 5-cylinder TFSI engine.

That’s 5kW and 15Nm more than the Mercedes, but with an extra cylinder and a turbo only boosting at a peak of 1.3 bar of charge pressure, there should be noticeably less turbo-lag and smoother torque delivery.  Audi claim that peak torque figure is available from as low as 1625rpm through to 5550rpm.  Equipped with a Haldex-derived 4WD system, driven through a 7-speed S tronic transmission, the RS3 can shuffle between 50-100% of its torque to the rear wheels.

The AWD and high outputs culminate in a claimed 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.3 seconds, whilst in gear flexibility is rather decent too – 60-100km/h taking just 4.1s and 80-120km/h taking 5.8s.  As standard the top speed is limited to 250km/h, but can optionally be raised to 280km/h for a fee.  Audi have been quick to state that figures aren’t everything though; claiming that the RS3 can perform “controlled drifts on low-friction road surfaces”.

Aiding all the power, Audi has revised the chassis from the S3 to RS3 transition, widening the front track, adapting the steering setup, and adding RS sport suspension – which lowers the car by 25mm compared to the A3 Sportback.  Tying the RS3 to the ground are 19-inch cast aluminium wheels in a 5-arm rotor design, shod with 235/35 profile rubber, with the option to spec 255/30 rubber up front.  Housed within the 19-inch wheels, Audi has taken care of braking performance with 370mm front and 310mm rear ventilated brake discs, with the option of carbon-ceramic discs for upgraded stopping power.

Naturally, being an RS model the RS3 has also received styling upgrades inside and out.  Audi has kept the tweaks sedate though, changing the front and rear splitters, side skirts, adding in a large RS grill, and adding the RS dual-chrome oval exhaust tips.  Besides the aluminium mirror caps though, the RS3 looks like a rather sedate machine from the splitters upwards.  Even the flared arches aren’t done massively so, which may leave a few people a bit disappointed with the overall styling.

On the inside, RS badges have been scattered about the black interior.  Nappa leather-wrapped sport seats and a leather and Alcantara wrapped RS steering wheel make an appearance, whilst details have been added to the driver information display such as a boost pressure indicator, oil temperature gauge, and a lap timer.  The options list is long, but includes diamond-stitched S Sport seats, park assist, RS bucket seats – made from a lightweight carbon shell – and a red accented interior package.

Weighing in at 1520Kg – 55Kg lighter than the previous RS3 – the RS3 looks to use its power, torque, gearbox, and 4WD programming to competently put the A45 AMG in its place.  Time will tell whether it succeeds or not, though, and with the first global deliveries expected to start by mid-2015, we could see the RS3 arrive locally during the first quarter or 2016.

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