Audi RS3 Sportback (2015): Audi guns for Merc’s A45 AMG

Published: 18 August 2014

The disguise is peeling away from the new 2015 Audi RS3, revealed in our latest spy photos. And the latest information from Ingolstadt is that the hot hatch power war is showing no signs of dissipating: the new RS3 Sportback arriving early in 2015 is tipped to get 360bhp.

It’s a worrying trend in hot-hatchkind: as nearly all GTIs turn to turbocharging and downsizing for their thrills, heady power outputs are but a microchip boost away. Do power figures to eclipse many Porsches make these hyper-hatches better to drive?

Sadly, not always. But here’s hoping that the 2015 Audi RS3 allays our fears. The campaign for stimulating hot hatchbacks – rather than runaway power figures – starts here!

Audi RS3 (2015): the latest spyshots

CAR’s photographer caught the new RS3 on test at the Nurburgring this week. ‘Losing camo and gaining speed,’ was the parting shot of our man with the long lens.

This prototype is identified as the five-door Audi A3 bodyshell, which suggests the RS3 will be Sportback only, repeating the formula from last time. It’s only one registration figure away from a separate RS3 we scooped back in April 2014, but the disguise is slowly peeling away.

Large air scoops dominate the front end while the wheelarches bulge out from the bodywork noticeably more than on a regular or cooking A3 Sportback. They house what are believed to be 20-inch alloy wheels of a new, lightweight 10-spoke design similar to the 19in Pretoria rims available on the VW Golf R. All four wheels are driven in this Quattro drivetrain, naturally.

Note how the roofrails follow the roofline and lead to a kicked-up, built-in spoiler to manage airflow at the rear of the Sportback. On this prototype Audi RS3, it’s finished in a glossy black panel.

Twin oval pipes and a diffuser mark out the RS3 Sportback

Moving to the back of the Audi RS3, the large twin oval exhaust pipes squeeze through what looks like a diffuser-style rear tray. Word is, the RS3 will stick with an evolution of the last model’s 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo, tuned for around 360bhp and 345lb ft of twist.

A seven-speed S-tronic twin-clutch transmission is on the cards. So you can see that the RS3 is aimed very much at the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG. Both hatchback rivals have high-output four- or five-cylinder engines, twin-clutch ‘boxes and outputs north of 350bhp… the power race continues.

When can I buy a new 2015 Audi RS3 Sportback?

Production is slated to begin in January 2015, according to CAR’s sources in Ingolstadt, pointing to a UK on-sale date in right-hand drive next spring or early summer.

If the RS3 Sportback sounds anything like as loud as its predecessor that CAR ran as a long-term test review, it should keep some of the warbling Audi five-pot legend alive.

Let’s just hope it’s fun as well as fruity-sounding…

Click here for more Audi A3 news, scoops and reviews.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet