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These are the first pictures of the next Audi RS 3 Sportback – the upcoming follow-up to Ingolstadt’s original pocket rocket. The test mule here wears a standard 300 hp S3 dress, but our ever vigilant European spies noticed its distinctive five-pot burble, signalling that there’s a much more sinister model lurking underneath.

There are a few telltale signs too. Notice the oversized wheels taken from the latest RS 4 and RS 5, with the fronts hiding massive brake discs that feature quattro GMBH’s novel weight-saving wave rotors. The latter is already in use in various RS models and the R8 supercar.

Expect the final model to have more aggressive styling cues with the signature RS large oval tailpipe(s). It won’t stray far away from the formula used on the recent RS Q3: a deep front air dam, rear diffuser and satin-finished details.

Speaking of the super SUV, the new RS 3 too will have the turbocharged 2.5 litre five-cylinder engine paired to a seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission. Power should be up from the last model’s 340 hp and 450 Nm of torque, perhaps matching the TT RS plus’ 360 hp and 465 Nm.

The new Audi RS 3 Sportback should debut sometime next year, setting up a titanic battle with the 360 hp/450 Nm Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG. A booted RS 3 based on the A3 Sedan is possible too, which could take the fight to the CLA 45 AMG.