The revered RS badge is about to adorn a compact class Audi for the first time as the new Audi RS 3 Sportback waits in the wings with suitably spectacular performance and an evocative five-cylinder soundtrack for a spring 2011 UK debut. The formidable yet usefully practical newcomer will be available to order in the UK from next month priced at £39,900 OTR.
First seen in the Audi TT RS, this all-new unit fills the cabin with a rich, bass-heavy five-cylinder tone as it channels 340PS and 450Nm of torque to the road through a standard seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission and quattro all-wheel-drive. A sound flap in the exhaust branch intensifies the sound even further when the driver presses the Sport button, which also varies throttle response.
Maximum torque is readily available at the low end of the rev range, from around 1,600 rpm, and remains constant up to 5,300 revolutions, making for excellent flexibility and response.
As befits an RS model the impressive output of this engine is reflected in an exceptional 0-62mph sprint time of just 4.6 seconds and an electronically governed 155mph top speed. Yet less predictably, this rapidity doesn't rule out the potential for up to 31mpg according to the combined cycle test.
The efficiency of the Audi RS 3 Sportback is due in large part to a delivery-on-demand oil pump and a regenerative system that recovers energy as the car decelerates, but is also facilitated by weight-saving measures including the use of strong but light vermicular graphite for the engine block and carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) for the front wings. These help to keep the kerb weight of the new Audi RS 3 down to 1,575kg, to keep CO2 output down to 212g/km and, equally importantly, to elevate the power-to-weight ratio to an impressive 216PS per tonne.
The latent performance potential of the new Audi RS 3 is conveyed subtly but unequivocally at the front end by a deeper front apron that incorporates enlarged air intakes, an anthracite coloured single-frame grille with diamond-patterned styling and xenon plus headlamps.
The side view is dominated by the flared, lightweight front wings covering 19-inch alloy wheels, prominent sill panels, mirror casings in matt aluminium look and a large roof spoiler. A high-gloss black diffuser insert and two elliptical exhaust tailpipes on the left accentuate the styling at the rear.
Inside, sports seats are upholstered in Fine Nappa leather with silver contrasting stitching, and inlays are finished in Piano black or the new Aluminium Race look. A flat-bottomed RS steering wheel and an exclusive design for the instruments and S tronic selector lever also highlight this car's status, as does a specially configured Driver's Information System which displays boost pressure and oil temperature and doubles as a lap timer.
The array of standard equipment also includes the Sport button, acoustic rear parking sensors, electronic climate control, DVD-based satellite navigation with MMI (Multi Media Interface) functionality and xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lights. Optional features include front bucket seats, roof rails in matt aluminium look and styling packages in black or matt aluminium. Five exterior colours are available, plus an unlimited selection of custom paint finishes.
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