THE revered RS badge is about to adorn a compact class Audi for the first time as the new RS 3 Sportback, with its evocative five-cylinder soundtrack, makes a spring 2011 UK debut.
Audi has taken the five-door Sportback version of the A3 as the foundation for the latest RS model, and in deference to the classic quattros of the Eighties endows it with a turbocharged five-cylinder petrol engine.
First seen in the TT RS, this all-new unit fills the cabin with a rich, bass-heavy five-cylinder tone as it channels the power 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.
The RS 3 Sportback has a regenerative system that recovers energy as the car decelerates and has many weight-saving measures to elevate the power-to-weight ratio to an impressive 216PS per tonne.
The extreme performance is helped by a chassis that lowers the RS 3 Sportback by 25mm compared with the standard A3, and comprises McPherson struts upfront and a four-link rear set-up.
The quattro permanent all-wheel drive system gives the RS 3 Sportback an extra measure of traction, composure and stability.
The performance potential of the new RS 3 is conveyed subtly at the front end by a deeper front apron that incorporates enlarged air intakes 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.
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 feature, as does a specially configured Driver’s Information System which displays boost pressure and oil temperature and doubles as a lap timer.
Standard equipment 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.