The hot hatch segment is as active now as it has ever been. Players, such as Mercedes-AMG have upped the ante withs its mega A45S and now Audi has responded with the new Audi RS3, which has been introduced in Sportback (ie hatch) and sedan guises. Both body shapes will be introduced into the SA market in the second half of 2022.

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Soft launch

The new Audi RS3 was previewed a few weeks ago when the automaker was keen to highlight the addition of a ‘drift mode’ made possible by a new torque vectoring rear differential. Read that story by clicking here. As a result of the soft launch we already knew some of the key numbers before the model’s introduction this week.

Rally roots

As a reminder, the new Audi RS3 is powered by a 2,5-litre inline five. The turbocharged engine, which draws a link to rally cars of the brand’s motorsport past, produces 294 kW and 500 N.m of torque. Those  numbers were once the preserve of pukka sportscars, but are now just the opening salvo in a performance car portfolio.

Power is channelled to all four wheels through a dual-clutch transmission. With the aid of launch control, Audi says both versions can sprint from rest to 100 km/h in 3,8 seconds; flat out they will do 250 km/h. Tick the right options box and that number rises to a whopping 290 km/h. Six-pot calipers clamp ventilated and drilled discs that measure 375 mm at the front and 310 mm at the rear. If buyers are keen there is also the option to increase the front rotors to 380 mm composite items. 

Click here to learn about the development of the very first Audi RS model, the Porsche-developed RS2.

In an effort to make the new Audi RS3 more dynamic and less of a straight-line specialist the company has programmed specific RS3 driving modes (comfort, auto, dynamic, RS Individual, and efficiency) as chosen by the driver when the need/desire arises. Key to this is the standard ‘torque splitter’. You can learn how the system works in this video

Bespoke appearance

Both body styles of the new Audi RS are set apart from less sporty siblings by a number of model-specific touches. These include flared wheel arches that house 19-inch alloys. Both front and rear tracks have also been widened for a more surefooted stance.

The front and rear bumpers are bespoke as is the diffuser at the rear, which has a pair of fat tailpipes sticking out at each corner. Audi’s signature singleframe grille has a honeycomb design. Flat, wedge-shaped LED headlights and LED taillights including dynamic turn signal lights are standard fitment. The new Audi RS3 models can be ordered in two exclusive RS colours: Kyalami green and Kemora grey.