This is our first look at Audi’s upcoming ultimate hot hatch: the new RS3. The 2015 RS3 is expected to develop around 380bhp, stealing the Mercedes A45 AMG’s 355bhp thunder and bearing down on Golf R 400 territory. Who says the power wars are over?
What gives this away as the new Audi RS3?
Bigger wheels – these front 20s are taken from the RS5, the rears from the RS4 Avant. Behind them lurk the ‘petal’ brake discs from other Audi RS products – the wavy discs save around 3kg each in unsprung mass.
Up front there’s a deeper front bumper, while the trademark ‘single-frame’ main grille sprouts an extra intake at the bottom, as seen on the new RS6 Avant and RS7 Sportback. It’s likely to feature a ‘quattro’ script, denoting the new RS3’s standard-fit all-wheel drive.
This car’s rare LED headlights suggest the flagship A3 could get the trick lights as standard. At the back, we see a bigger rear wing, bulkier bumper and RS-spec oval tailpipes.
Any word on engine spec?
It’s thought the new RS3 will use a development of the previous model’s TT RS-sourced 2.5-litre turbo engine. The 20-valve, five-cylinder petrol unit will need a trip to eco boot camp to meet EU6 emissions legislation, but word is Audi is planning to inflate power from 335bhp to around 380bhp.
The mule spied here is running a seven-speed dual-clutch paddleshift gearbox: S-tronic, in Audi-speak.
It’s unclear whether the production car will also offer a manual option, as in the lesser S3 hot hatch, which develops 296bhp and shares its drivetrain with the VW Golf R. The last RS3 was automatic only, don't forget.
Why a five-door?
Audi didn’t offer a three-door version of the outgoing RS3 because of fears it would cannibalise sales of the TT RS coupe. With plans to offer a 380bhp RS version of the new TT already afoot, expect the five-door-only RS3 policy to remain.
Thanks to the MQB platform that underpins all mid-size VW Group products introduced since 2012, the new RS3 will be lighter than the car it replaces. It could shed as much as 100kg versus its porky predecessor, pitching it at 1475kg.
Mercedes’s own all-wheel drive A45 AMG weighs 1555kg; the current S3 Sportback S-tronic bodes well at 1445kg.
The RS3 Sportback is due in showrooms in late 2015, and should be priced in line with the £38k A45 AMG, making it cheaper than the previous model’s £40k ask.