After a batch of teaser images as well as a preview, Audi has finally given the RS 3 Sportback and RS 3 Sedan duo their official unveiling. The new Audi Sport duo have the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S 4Matic+ and Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4Matic+ squarely in their sights, going toe-to-toe in the ultimate performance hatchback and compact sedan stakes.

The RS3 Sportback and RS3 Sedan debut as third- and second-generation models respectively, and the heart of each member of this high-performance duo continues to be the turbocharged five-cylinder 2.5 litre TFSI engine, which now produces 400 PS from 5,600 rpm to 7,000 rpm, and 500 Nm of torque from 2,250 rpm to 5,600 rpm.

These propel the RS 3 Sportback and Sedan from 0-100 km/h in 3.8 seconds, or 0.3 seconds quicker than their predecessors. Top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h, or it can be optionally raised to 280 km/h. If this is still deemed insufficient, buyers can also opt for the RS Dynamic package that brings ceramic brakes, and the top speed can be further lifted to 290 km/h.

In classic high-performance Audi fashion, engine outputs are sent to all four wheels, with the RS 3 Sportback and RS 3 Sedan using a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. This time around, the RS 3 Sportback and Sedan gain an Audi-first Torque Splitter, where a an electronically-controlled multiple-disc clutch pack on each drive shaft replaces the previous arrangement of differential and multi-disc clutch combination.

This setup enables the RS 3 driveline to optimally distribute torque between each rear wheel on the rear axle, and will send more torque to the outside rear wheel with the higher wheel loads during more dynamic driving in order to significantly reduce understeer, says Audi.

This also facilitates more controlled drifts on closed courses, says the automaker, where the system can send all of the engine’s output to just one of the rear wheels, with up to 1,750 Nm of torque possible at each rear wheel. Audi developed a drive mode for the new RS 3 – dubbed RS Torque Rear – specifically to make use of this function, to function as a drift mode which specific characteristics for the torque splitter.

Meanwhile, Audi has also given the RS 3 an RS Performance Mode intended for racetrack driving, which offers an engine and transmission calibration specifically matched to the semi-slick tyres that are offered for the first time as an RS 3 factory-fitted option, says the brand.

These new drive modes can be selected by the driver through the drive select menu, which also offers comfort, auto, dynamic, RS Individual and efficiency modes. Also new to the RS 3 is the modular vehicle dynamics controller (mVDC), which captures data from all components relevant to lateral dynamics, synchronising the torque splitter, adaptive dampers, and wheel-selective torque control to ultimately improve agility.

In terms of chassis hardware, the new RS 3 duo gets RS sport suspension as standard, comprised of newly-developed dampers and valving specific to these new models. The new valving is aimed at exhibiting “a particularly sensitive response” in terms of both rebound and compression movements, with the desired goal of responding to a range of driving situations more quickly and effectively, says Audi.

The RS 3 also gets a greater degree of wheel camber, offering more precise steering and increased cornering forces; in comparison to the regular Audi A3, the RS 3 gets just under one degree of additional negative camber on its front wheels. This has been achieved by modifying the pivot bearings, and its lower wishbones were outfitted with stiffer bearings, subframes and stabilisers.

Meanwhile at the rear end, the rear axle gets a four-link suspension design with separate spring and damper placements, including the subframe and tubular stabiliser bar. In terms of overall footprint, front axle track width is up by 33 mm compared to the previous RS 3, while on the RS 3 Sportback, rear axle track is now 10 mm wider than before.

Here, the wheel carriers are made stiffer than those of the regular A3 and S3 in order to absorb the greater lateral forces generated by the new torque splitter, and the rear wheels also feature nearly half a degree more negative camber than on the regular A3. Overall, spring and damper rates are increased, and the RS 3 rides 10 mm lower than the S3 and 25 mm lower than the regular A3.

All that potentially greater speed from the enhanced chassis is put in check by a set of new, larger six-piston steel brakes with discs measuring 375 mm x 36 mm in front and 310 mm x 22 mm at the rear, making them larger and more stable than the brakes on the previous RS 3, says Audi. An optional ceramic front brake setup is available on the RS 3, featuring discs measuring 380 mm x 38 mm.

Overall, new air control elements improve the brakes’ cooing time by 20%, aiding in reducing their peak temparatures and pad wear, while retaining pedal feel. Brake pads are now 15% larger and copper-free. The ceramic brakes can be had in a choice of grey, red or blue finishes for the calipers, while the calipers for the steel brakes can be optioned in red instead of the standard black finish.

Rolling stock as standard are 19-inch cast wheels with a 10-spoke design, along with the option of a five-spoke design. The aforementioned semi-slick option for those much more committed are a set of Pirelli P Zero Trefeo R tyres.

The RS 3 is identified on its exterior from lesser A3-based versions by its wider front bumper and redesigned Singleframe front end with a honeycomb grille, joined by larger, more aggressive air intakes. Standard lighting equipemnt includes LED headlamps and tail lamps with dynamic turn signals.

Meanwhile, Matrix LED headlamps with darkened bezels and digital DRL with a 3 x 5 LED arrangement are optional. These offer a chequered flag graphic as a coming home/leaving home lighting scene, along with RS 3 graphics.

Interior equipment for the new RS 3 range features a 12.3-inch virtual cockpit plus setup as standard, where the tachometer is shown as a bar graph, while power and torque outputs are shown as percentages. The virtual cockpit plus emsemble also includes displays for g-forces, lap times and acceleration times, the latter for 0-100 km/h, 0-200 km/h, quarter-mile and one-eighth-mile measures.

Specific to the RS 3 is a blinking shift indicator when the transmission is in manual mode, where the tacho display changes from green to yellow to red, and blinking to indicate when it is time to upshift. Infotainment is via a 10.1-inch touch display that, in the RS 3 can also show coolant, engine, and transmission oil temperatures as well as tyre pressures. Here, a first for the RS 3 is a head-up display.

The tactile aspects of the new RS 3 duo come courtesy of Nappa leather in RS-style honeycomb stitching and glossy black, red or green contrast stitching, along with available matching RS Design aesthetic packages. These include special floor mats with contrast stitching and RS embroidery, along with seatbelts with coloured edges.

Those in the driver’s seat get to take charge of a three-spoke multi-function steering wheel with flattened bottom, with die-cast zinc shift paddles. Specifying the Design Package brings a 12 o’clock wheel marker, or alternatively a round RS steering wheel can be optioned with hands-on (capacitive grip) detection for assisted driving functions. An RS mode button on the right-hand side wheel spoke enables quick access to the drive select modes.

New colours offered on the latest RS 3 include Kyalami Green – as seen on the Sedan example here – and Kemora grey. The roof of the RS 3 Sedan can be optioned in a contrasting black finish, while the honeycomb grille within the Singleframe can be finished in either matte or high-gloss black.

Additionally, an Alu-Optic trim package is optional for a brighter finish on the front bumper, diffuser insert, and window trim. Those preferring a more overtly sporty look can opt for carbon-fibre reinforced polymer trim for the rocker panel inlays, mirror covers, tailgate spoiler for the RS 3 Sedan and roof edge spoiler on the RS 3 Sportback.

The order books for the latest Audi RS 3 Sportback and RS 3 Sedan will be opened for Europe beginning mid-July this year, with market arrivals set for the autumn of 2021. European prices for the Audi RS 3 Sportback start from 60,000 euros (RM298,564), while the Audi RS 3 Sedan starts from 62,000 euros (RM308,517).

@paultancars

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? War – Dance With the Dead

Third-generation Audi RS 3 Sportback

Second-generation Audi RS 3 Sedan

2022 Audi RS 3 technical illustrations