This is Audi’s new 2010 RS3, a mad hot hatch that will be a final hurrah for the current A3 range before an all-new model is launched in 2011.
CAR’s spies at the Nurburgring have captured this prototype sporting engorged air intakes, bigger brakes and a lowered ride height, while under the bonnet is the same turbocharged 2.5-litre five-pot that’s found in the TT RS.
That means a more than ample 335bhp, sent to all four wheels via either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch S-tronic gearbox. The RS3 will be launched in 2010 for the final year of sales before the new A3.
And what about the next Audi A3?
Once complete, the next A3 range kicking off in 2011 will grow to include five different variants. It will be based on the VW Group’s new super-flexible MQB modular transverse matrix, allowing new versions to be launched cost effectively:
• A3 Shortback Lower, sleeker and racier, this is the new three-door A3, due in 2011
• A3 Sportback Segment leader carefully tuned for more room and vroom, due in 2012
• A3 Slantback A crossbreed between saloon and 4dr coupé, aimed at BMW 1-series and Merc BLC, 2013
• A3 Cabriolet Based on the notchback rather than the hatch, more class and more space, 2012
• A3 Eco High-efficiency Sportback in spacial low-drag livery with 1.4 TDI and e-pack, 2011
The A3 e-pack comprises brake energy recuperation, a compact buffer battery, electric drive for most of the auxiliary equipment, start-stop also in combination with the S-tronic transmission, a taller final drive ratio, an upshift indicator, low rolling-resistance tyres and the aero kit with selectively blocked air intakes.
Like the new Polo Bluemotion, the A3 Eco is tipped to average 85mpg or 3.3l/100km, emits only 89g of CO2/km and meets the most stringent
EU6 tailpipe norm.
The next RS3 isn’t yet confirmed – sales of the forthcoming 335bhp hatch will decide its fate. Similarly on standby is an A3 Allroad Quattro which would
also use the five-door Avant-esque bodystyle.
And the A3 cabrio?
To shed its wallflower image, the A3 convertible will in future also be available with Quattro 4wd and with the S3 pack which includes S-tronic as well as a more powerful 280bhp engine.
The clever but thirsty VR6 unit bites the dust, and so does the faithful 102bhp 1.6-litre two-valver which will be replaced by a 1.2-litre TFSI four-cylinder good for 105bhp.
A3 engine line-up
Other 2011 A3 models are the 122bhp 1.4 TFSI Eco, the 140bhp 1.4 TFSI, the 180bhp 1.8 TFSI, the 211bhp 2.0 TFSI, the 1.6 TDI with 90 or 105bhp and the 2.0-litre TDI with 140 or 170bhp.
Still up in the air but definitely coming is a whole new generation of state-of-the-art three-cylinder engines. Although the current A3 is not exactly a showroom magnet in the US, Audi intends to bring all five versions (but not all engines) of the new car to North America.