AUDI has unveiled the world's most powerful hot-hatch with a new RS variant of its A3 small car.
The RS3 becomes the smallest model to wear the company's performance badge and borrows a turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine from the company's TT RS coupe to produce 250kW of power and 450Nm of torque.
The German brand's announcement confirms spy pictures and details Drive revealed last June for a car that could potentially cost close to $100,000 if Audi Australia confirms the model for Australia.
The S3 already commands more than $70,000 before on-road costs are added, and the RS3's engine comes from a car costing $137,000.
An RS3 model has been rumoured for many years, and its belated unveiling means it arrives just as Audi is preparing to launch its next-generation A3.
It promises rapid performance, though.
Audi says the all-wheel-drive RS3 will accelerate from standstill to 100km/h in 4.6 seconds – knocking a whole second off the time of the A3 range's current flagship, the S3 Sportback. A launch control feature is included. Top speed is an electronically limited 250km/h and official fuel consumption is 9.1 litres per 100km.
Excellent driveability is promised by the maximum torque of 450Nm being delivered, as it is in the TT RS, all the way from 1600rpm to 5300rpm. The engine's output is fed to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch auto, complete with paddle-shift levers.
A Sport button can be pushed to sharpen throttle response and beef up the exhaust note by opening a flap in the exhaust system.
Audi has also provided a Sport mode for the electronic stability control system for a later intervention. If drivers want to take the RS3 onto a racetrack, the system can be disabled completely.
The RS3 has wider tracks and 25mm-lower ride height compared with a regular A3.
The 1575kg five-door hatch sits on bigger, 19-inch wheels with propeller-style alloys and there's a larger roof spoiler at the rear.
Carbonfibre-reinforced plastic is used for the front guards to help reduce weight.
The RS3's cabin features nappa leather sports seats, a flat-bottomed sports steering wheel and a driver information system that includes information such as turbo boost pressure, oil temperature and a lap timer function.
Other standard equipment on European models include rear parking sensors, climate control and DVD-based satellite navigation.
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