New Audi RS3 revealed: more torque, more tech

Published: 19 July 2021

► Next RS3 is on the way
► Intelligent RS Torque Splitter
► More torque and upgraded ECU

Audi has revealed a new, even more aggressive-looking RS3. Available in Sportback and saloon flavours, Ingolstadt’s latest third-gen hot hatch will start £50,900 – though that’ll increase as you move from RS3, to Carbon, Launch Edition and Vorsprung.

Orders start in August, and deliveries should appear towards the end of the year. 

It's wider and meaner than ever before and introduces some new performance tech along the way. The front axle is now 33mm wider than the previous model, with a further increase of 10mm on the Sportback’s rear axle. In the digital sphere, the new RS3 comes with Audi’s Matrix LED headlights. Just like those on the Q4 e-Tron they’re able to make different patterns, and here they can spell out R S 3 and a chequered flag when you leave the car. Inside, the RS3 uses a 12.3-inch touchscreen, filled with Audi’s virtual cockpit plus tech as standard.

Give me some specs

The RS3 keeps the same 2.5-litre, five-cylinder formula as before, only now it puts out 369lb ft of torque over an increased range of 2250rpm to 5600rpm. Power is 394bhp, though a new ECU means the new RS 3 is more responsive at lower revs; it’ll smash 62mph from a standstill in 3.8 seconds – 0.3 faster than before. And it all goes through a seven-cog DCT. 

Top speed is limited 155mph in the standard RS3, though that’s unlocked to a 174mph in Launch Editions and Vorsprung trims. The RS Dynamic package takes things further to 180mph – and even throws in ceramic brakes to cope with the extra velocity.

How will it handle

A new RS Torque Splitter makes its debut in Ingolstadt’s hot hatch. Designed to allow active and fully variable torque vectoring between the rear wheels, it should seriously dial out understeer – and also allow for controlled drifts. 

The splitter essentially upgrades the RS3’s all-wheel-drive system, helping it move the power between the wheels faster and more efficiently. During dynamic driving it moves more drive to the wheel on the outside of the corner, the right rear wheel in left corners, and the left rear in right corners. The overall affect is less ‘pushing’ through the corner from the front axle, and a less-understeery car.

In oversteer situations, the RS 3 will load the inside rear with a bit more power, helping to negate a slide and keep the car straight. But if you really want to go sideways, the RS3’s torque splitter will also force all its torque through just one rear wheel. 

The RS3 will has seven modes in total, and three of them will be RS-specific. In addition to the usual comfort, auto, efficiency and dynamic you also get RS Individual, RS Performance and RS Torque Rear. 

Anything else?

Audi has also introduced new shock absorbers and along with optional adaptive damper control. Ride height has also been powered by 15mm compared to the S3 and 25mm compared to the standard A3. 

Up front you’ll find a McPherson strut suspension, while at the rear the new RS3 uses a four-link design. 

The standard car also gets new, six-piston steel brakes – though a larger ceramic system is also availible. 10kg lighter than the steel unit, it also features a 20% improvement in cooling.

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast