Audi’s new RS 3 Sportback, the ultimate A3, has been revealed as the most powerful compact car in production, managing to edge out Mercedes-Benz’s A45 AMG and CLA45 AMG by a nose. The new RS 3, which is yet to be confirmed for the U.S. market, packs Audi’s familiar turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine which rates in at 362 horsepower and 343 pound-feet of torque.
By comparison, the Mercedes models each develop 355 hp and 332 lb-ft from their 2.0-liter turbo fours, while BMW’s contender in this segment, the 1-Series Hatchback-based M135i, has 320 hp and 332 lb-ft from its 3.0-liter six.
A seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission is standard in the RS 3, with its quick shifts helping the car to accelerate from 0-62 mph in just 4.3 seconds. Top speed is normally limited to 155 mph but upon request owners can have this limit bumped up to 174 mph.
Drive goes to all four wheels via a permanent quattro all-wheel-drive system, which features an electronically-controlled, hydraulically-activated multi-plate clutch that helps to divert torque between the axles. Depending on conditions, between 50 and 100 percent of the available torque can be sent to the rear axle. On top of this, the RS 3 features a brake-based torque vectoring system for distribution between the wheels.
Further aiding handling is the sports suspension, which sits one inch lower compared to the regular A3. High-strength aluminum pivot bearings and a wider track have also been added. Magnetic ride adaptive dampers are available, and buyers can also opt for carbon ceramic brakes. The standard brakes, which are vented steel discs, measure in at 14.6 inches up front and 12.2 inches in the rear, and these sit within 19-inch cast aluminum wheels shod with 235/35 size tires.
The interior of the RS 3 is in sporty black and accentuated with RS badges. The sport seats are covered in Fine Nappa leather with contrasting stitching in rock gray. Wrapped in leather and Alcantara, a sports steering wheel is flattened at the bottom, and the selector lever also features a particularly sporty design. The driver information system includes a boost pressure indicator, an oil temperature gauge and a lap timer, and the Audi Drive Select feature is also standard, allowing the driver to tweak things like the throttle, suspension and steering settings.
The RS 3 is also available with all the best infotainment features and driver assistance systems from the regular A3, including MMI navigation plus with MMI touch. The comfort and convenience package includes features such as power-adjustable and heated front seats, four-way lumbar supports, automatically dimming exterior mirrors and a light and rain sensor.
Deliveries of the new RS 3 Sportback in Europe commence in the summer. As mentioned above, the car isn’t confirmed for the U.S. market, and there’s a chance we may never see it. Instead, we may get a new RS 3 sedan inspired by the A3 clubsport quattro concept unveiled earlier this year.