The unmistakable soundtrack, exhilarating free-revving and brawny power – the five-cylinder engine from Audi is legendary. It is for this reason that it has won the famed International Engine of the Year award for six consecutive years in its category. This engine makes its return in the new Audi RS3 Sportback, producing 270 kW of unbridled power and 465 Nm of torque. The 2.5 TFSI accelerates the five-door model from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.3 seconds.
The previous model redefined the segment, having been produced in limited numbers for global distribution, Audi South Africa managed to obtain and deliver 174 of those units in the local market. With this model, quattro GmbH, the high-performance subsidiary that develops and builds the sporty spearheads in the AUDI AG product portfolio, now has seven RS models on the market – the RS 3 Sportback, RS Q3, RS 4 Avant, RS 5 Coupé, RS 5 Cabriolet, RS 6 Avant and the RS 7 Sportback.
The 2.5 TFSI in the new Audi RS 3 Sportback guarantees to thrill with immense pulling power, eager revving and its own unique acoustic experience. The throaty growl backed by the rhythm of the five-cylinder ignition sequence is the classic Audi soundtrack. Two flaps in the exhaust control the exhaust flow to provide for an even more intensive sound experience that varies with engine load and speed. The driver can control these flaps via the Audi drive select system. For the first time in this segment, Audi offers a sport exhaust system as an option.
Powerful five-cylinder engines have a long tradition at Audi. During the 1980s, they powered the Audi rally cars, touring cars and production models to the front of the pack. The first RS model, the RS 2 from 1994, also had this engine. The five-cylinder made its comeback in 2009 in the Audi TT RS; it made its way into the previous generation RS 3 Sportback in 2011 and two years later into the RS Q3.
The five-cylinder unit produces 270 kW from a displacement of 2,480 cc – a remarkable specific output of 108.9 kW per litre. The peak torque of 465 Nm is already available at 1,625 rpm and remains constant through 5,550 rpm. The turbocharger develops up to 1.3 bar of charge pressure. The 2.5 TFSI catapults the new Audi RS 3 Sportback to 100 km/h from a standing start in 4.3 seconds – the best in its class. Acceleration is electronically capped at 250 km/h however can be optionally raised to 280 km/h, a feature which is also unique in the compact sports car segment. Its claimed fuel consumption is 8.1 litres per 100 kilometres, ten percent less than its predecessor. This corresponds to 189 grams CO2 per kilometre. A recuperation system, a demand-controlled oil pump and a newly developed start-stop system that turns off the engine shortly before the car comes to a stop contribute to this efficiency.
The standard seven-speed S tronic transfers the power of the 2.5 TFSI via three shafts – one drive shaft and two output shafts. The driver can choose between two automatic modes for the seven-speed S tronic or shift manually using the shift paddles on the steering wheel or the selector lever. The launch control system provides for optimal traction and minimal tyre slip when sprinting from a standing start.
The quattro permanent all-wheel drive system transfers the power of the 2.5 TFSI to the road with supreme ease. Its central component is the electronically controlled, hydraulically activated multi-plate clutch. It distributes the available torque as needed to the front and rear axles in the blink of an eye. Depending on the driving style and coefficient of friction, between 50 and 100 percent of the available torque can be sent to the rear axle.
Control of the multi-plate clutch is integrated into the Audi drive select system. With its very sport configuration, it uses all handling-relevant information including the steering angle. In dynamic mode and when the ESC Electronic Stabilization Control system is set to sport mode, power is transferred sooner and in greater amounts to the rear axle for even better handling, giving the new Audi RS 3 Sportback very agile and direct turn-in. This enables the driver to even perform controlled drifts on low-friction road surfaces. The front axle pulls the car back onto a straight line when exiting a bend.
Torque vectoring makes the handling of the Audi RS 3 Sportback even more seamless. During fast cornering, it brakes the interior wheels which are under a reduced load. This enables both wheels on the axle to transfer more power to the road. Thanks to the difference in propulsive forces, the car turns slightly into the corner and supports the driver’s sporty driving style.
The internally ventilated brake discs measure 370 millimetres in diameter at the front and 310 millimetres at the rear. The front friction rings feature a weight-saving wave design and are perforated for maximum heat dissipation.
The five-door compact has a curb weight (without driver) of just 1,520 kilograms, 55 kilograms less than its predecessor. The basis for its light weight is the Volkswagen Group’s modular transverse matrix (MQB) with its strict lightweight construction concept. The occupant cell contains many components of ultra-high-strength, hot-shaped steel, and the engine hood is made of aluminum. The orientation of the engine in combination with the multi-plate clutch and the battery, which are located in front of and behind the rear axle, respectively, contributes to a favorable axle load distribution.
The design of the RS3 reveals its potential at first glance. The Singleframe grille features a high-gloss black, honeycomb-look grille and a frame in matt aluminum look. The large air inlets framed by bold contours provide air to the engine’s supplemental radiator and the transmission oil cooler. The blade integrated into the front apron extends upward into the air inlets to form a vertical dividing bar.
Viewed in profile, the widened front fenders, chiseled side sills, matt aluminum-look mirror housings and the large roof spoiler of the Audi RS 3 Sportback immediately catch the eye. A pronounced bumper, high-gloss black diffuser insert with honeycomb grille and four bars plus two large, oval tailpipes make for a bold rear. RS 3 badges adorn the Singleframe grille and the rear hatch.
Dedicated individualists can order additional features, including a carbon engine cover. Besides exterior details with distinctive surface, they also include a quattro logo in titanium grey in the air inlet. The eight paint finishes include two new shades: Nardo Grey and Catalunya Red, which is exclusive to the Audi RS 3 Sportback.
The interior of the new Audi RS 3 Sportback is in sporty black and accentuated with RS badges. The sport seats are covered in Fine Nappa leather with contrasting stitching in rock grey. Wrapped in leather and Alcantara, the RS multifunction sport 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.
Fine details round out the atmosphere of dynamics and extraordinary craftsmanship. The pedals and footrest are made of stainless steel; the door trim inserts are Alcantara. As is typical for RS models, the door openers are slender double bars and the inlays are in black 3D-design (optionally available in Aluminum Race or carbon). The dials in the RS instrument cluster are black, the needles red and the scales white. High-quality applications in gloss anthracite black frame the instruments.
Customers are also able to choose S sport seats with diamond-stitching, embossed logos and optional light-coloured upholstery, and for the first time in the compact segment the newly developed RS bucket seats with integrated side airbags and a carbon seat shell, which are seven kilograms lighter than the basic sport seat. Another attractive option is the RS 3 interior design package with red accents on the knee pad, the air vents, the floor mats and the seat belts.
The Audi RS3 Sportback will be offered with a comprehensive list of standard equipment, including:
- 19-inch alloy wheels
- Sports suspension
- Xenon plus headlights
- Audi drive select
- Audi music interface
- Audi sound system
- Bluetooth interface with audio streaming
- Parking System Plus
- Fine Nappa leather upholstery
- Front sport seats with RS embossing
- Light/rain sensor
- Aluminium look interior enhancements
- Front centre armrest
- RS3 Leather-trimmed, 3-spoke flat bottom multi-function steering wheel with shift paddles
- Cruise control system
- Digital air conditioning
- LED interior lighting
The Audi RS3 Sportback will be priced as follows, including the standard 5 year/100 000km Audi Freeway Plan:
Audi RS3 Sportback 2.5T FSI quattro S tronic: R 710,000