The most significant change you'll notice to the new RS 3 is the far more aggressive snout. In addition, the grille and headlights now come wrapped in a charcoal bezel, giving the model the same familial look as the upcoming e-tron GT.
The balance of the visual changes is a mix of form and function. The headlights now come with a little LED secondary light that can illuminate an 'R', 'S', or '3', as well as a chequered flag. It's also now 33mm wider at the front axle, underlined by bolder arches.
The interior is all-new, looking a little like a junior Audi RS 6 cabin. Amid all the aggressive trapezoids and carbon weave, you get a flat-bottomed Alcantara-lined steering wheel, zinc paddle shifters, a 12.3-inch 'Virtual Cockpit' digital cluster, and a 10.1-inch primary touchscreen.
Those who love the howl of a five-pot will be glad to hear that Audi's 2.5-litre engine is back. There was conjecture on how much power and torque the engine would produce, with some reports overseas indicating that power would be completely unchanged.
Not so, in the end. Audi claims that the five-cylinder now produces either 294kW of power or 299kW of power, depending on your region. With the lower output being reserved for European models and the higher output reserved for American models, it's safe to assume that the difference is linked to emissions regulations.
With 500Nm of torque also on tap and a seven-speed dual-clutch sending power to all four wheels (yep, still no manual), the RS 3 can reportedly hit 100km/h in 3.8 seconds, making it one-tenth quicker to the mark than the Mercedes-AMG A 45. Top speed is ordinarily limited to 250km/h, but you can increase the limiter, which lifts the figure to 290km/h.
As previously reported, the Audi RS 3 gets a sport rear differential, not unlike its A 45 rival, featuring a Drift Mode. It's called the RS Torque Splitter, and it features an electronically controlled multiple clutch package on each rear driveshaft.
New shocks, new stiffer bearings, and a touch more negative camber are among the RS 3's ride tweaks. There's also an RS sport suspension option, which throws in adaptive dampers. Optional 380mm ceramic brakes are also available for the front end instead of the standard drilled steel 375mm units.
The new technology also makes it possible to operate the car on racing tracks. The torque splitter then sends all the power to one of the wheels (up to 1,750 Nm per wheel). Audi has also developed a special driving mode, "RS Torque Rear" - which is a drifting mode with its own characteristics for the splitter. Another novelty is the RS Performance driving mode, which has been developed especially for bank driving. Here, a specific configuration for the engine and gearbox is used, and the position is carefully adapted for the semi-slick tires selected from the factory *. In this case, the torque splitter makes the car's driving characteristics along the longitudinal axis extra dynamic and sporty, with as little understeer and oversteer as possible. The driver selects these modes via the Audi drive select driving dynamics system, just like the Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, RS Individual and Efficiency driving profiles.
Another novelty for Audi RS 3 is mVDC (modular Vehicle Dynamics Controller). The central system collects data from all components involved in the lateral dynamics, thus ensuring that they interact with each other in a faster and more precise way. mVDC synchronizes the torque splitter, the adaptive shock absorbers and the wheel-specific torque distribution, thus making the steering and road properties more precise. Overall, it makes the car even more agile, especially on curvy roads.
The Audi RS 3 is equipped as standard with a 3-spoke, leather-covered RS multifunction sports steering wheel that is flattened at the bottom. The steering wheel is equipped with high-quality shift paddles in cast zinc. If you choose the Design package and the RS mark, you also get an indication line placed at 12 on the steering wheel to see the steering angle more quickly when driving sportily. Alternatively, you can choose a completely round RS steering wheel that also is touch-sensitive for steering assistance functions. Both steering wheels have a button for the new RS driving mode on the right steering wheel, where the driver can choose between the Audi drive select modes RS Performance, RS Individual or most recently used mode. The instrument display and head-up display have an even sportier look with a flashing shift indicator in both RS modes.