It’s a well known fact that I like an Audi RS so I’m looking forward to the all new 367PS Audi RS 3 Sportback which is now en route to the UK. It is the most powerful compact hatchback currently in series production and will be even more adept at catering for sports car devotees who also need to take care of everyday necessities like the school run and the supermarket sweep.
Capable, say Audi, of snapping at the heels of exotica with its 4.3-second 0-62mph sprint time and potential top speed of up to 174mph, the new five-door, five-seat Audi RS 3 Sportback will weigh in at £39,950 OTR. It will become available to order in March and reach its first UK customers in the summer. With a suitable stretch of Autobahn to hand drivers can continue to an electronically governed 155mph top speed. Drivers looking for optimal performance can also specify an optional increase to 174mph.The new entry point to the formidable Audi RS range is born of impeccable breeding. It is based on the current World Car of the Year and features the latest evolution of the evocative 2.5L five-cylinder TFSI – winner of the International Engine of the Year Award in the 2.0 to 2.5-litre category on no less than five consecutive occasions since 2010. Equally reassuringly, it shores up the extraordinary performance and handling produced by bringing these two elements together with the latest generation of legendary quattro all-wheel-drive.The 367PS output from the aurally characterful (it makes a nice noise thanks to butterfly valves in the exhaust) motor is complemented by peak torque of 465Nm (343lb-ft), which is available right from 1,625rpm through to 5,550rpm, ensuring that huge reserves of performance are always at the driver’s disposal. A sports exhaust upgrade which deepens the tone even further is also available as an option.
Compliance with stringent EU6 emissions legislation confirms that the latest edition of the classic five-cylinder unit is as frugal as it is feisty. With the help of a recuperation system, a demand-controlled oil pump and a new generation start-stop facility which increases the duration of engine ‘downtime’ at each stop, the latest RS model is capable of returning up to 34.8mpg, corresponding to CO² emissions of 189g/km.A seven-speed S-tronic twin-clutch transmission reworked to offer even faster shifts directs the power to the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system with its redesigned and lightened multi-plate clutch and torque vectoring capability. The clutch is mounted on the rear axle in the interest of balanced load distribution, and the parameters its bespoke RS 3 software works to can be controlled via the Audi drive select system.
Depending on the situation, it can send between 50 and 100 percent of the available torque to the rear axle, and when Audi drive select is in dynamic mode and the ESC Electronic Stabilisation Control system is in its sport setting, power is transferred to the rear sooner and in greater amounts for even greater agility and more direct turn-in.Customers can choose from a palette of eight paint finishes to either accentuate or subtly play down the purposeful look – it includes the two new shades Nardo grey and Catalunya red, metallic, the latter available exclusively for the RS 3 Sportback.
In the equally focused interior the standard sports seats are upholstered in Fine Nappa leather with contrasting stitching in rock grey, and the driver’s is perfectly positioned in relation to the flat-bottomed RS multifunction sports steering wheel with its leather and Alcantara trim. Stainless steel pedals, Alcantara door inserts and inlays in either 3D design black or optional Aluminium Race or Carbon also signal intent.
High-quality applications in gloss anthracite black frame the instruments, which include black-faced dials with red needles and white scales, plus a driver‘s information system enhanced by a boost pressure indicator, an oil temperature gauge and a lap timer plus, of course, the usual connectivity/info stuff. Proper RS bucket seats are a must-have option. This is a serious car and will in due course be deserving of my fullest attention.