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Audi A3 Clubsport heralds RS3

Conchita first: Audi has chosen the Wörthersee show in Austria for the debut of its hi-po sedan A3 concept.

Hyper A3 Clubsport concept hints at forthcoming Audi RS3 for Australia

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Audi logo16 May 2014

By DANIEL GARDNER

HIGH-PERFORMANCE Audi fans are in for a treat at Europe's biggest Volkswagen Group enthusiast show this year, with the Ingolstadt car-maker planning to unveil a mad 386kW/600Nm A3 concept that could pave the way for the next-generation RS3.

Audi has chosen the Wörthersee show in Austria for the world debut of its A3 Clubsport Quattro, which uses a highly-strung version of the RSQ3 2.5-litre five-cylinder to blast the fiery four-door to 100km/h in just 3.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 310km/h.

If the concept finds its way to production, it is unlikely the super-sedan will retain quite this level of firecracker performance, but an output similar to the five-cylinder 265kW/465Nm previous-generation TT RS would still deliver performance to match arch-rivals the Mercedes-Benz CLA45/A45 AMG and BMW's M135i.

Europe will see the production RS3 roll-out next year though Audi has yet to confirm which, if any, of the concept's features will find their way on to the RS badged car.

The concept features signature RS design features including twin large-bore oval tail-pipes, classic silver mirror-caps and a typical RS wheel-rim design.

Suffice to say, the concept's styling would seamlessly fit in alongside its RS stablemates.

The first-gen RS3 didn't make it as far as Australia, but with a growing demand for high-performance European cars Down Under, Audi senior product communications executive Shaun Cleary said the next-generation hyper-A3 was very much on the radar.

“Australia is, without question, a performance market. And demand for our S/RS/R8 models has increased dramatically over the last 18 months as our range of performance models has expanded,” he said.

“If it were to be available, we would be delighted to see an even sportier model sitting above our increasingly popular S3. We also believe our Australian customers would like to see such a model.”

At its core, the A3 Clubsport's five-cylinder engine is mechanically similar to the Audi RSQ3, but a bigger turbocharger blowing through a modified intercooler and fattened manifolds, ups the boost-pressure to 1.5 bar (relative).

The glut of power and torque finds its way to the quattro four-wheel drive system via a beefed-up S-tronic seven-speed double clutch automatic transmission, and everything is kept pointing in the right direction with three-axis adjustable suspension at each corner.

The concept sits 10mm lower than the already bumper-dragging S3 sedan and mighty 21-inch wheels complete the power-train, while ultra-low profile 275/25 tyres sit over monstrous 370mm carbon-ceramic brakes.

During high-speed braking the substantial brakes are supplemented by an active air-brake, which rises from the boot-lid to increase rear-end downforce, allowing the ESC to apply more wheel braking force without locking-up.

Audi resisted the temptation to leave the carbon-fibre bonnet in its natural look-at-me black weave, instead opting for an eye-catching Magnetic Blue to match the rest of the body, but raw carbon does make an appearance in the front-splitter and side sills.

The liberal use of composite materials couldn't offset the mass of the cast iron cylinder block though, and the concept weighs in at a chunky 77kg more than the 1450kg S3 sedan.

That said – with a power to weight ratio of 253kW per ton, the A3 Clubsport's ratio is only slightly less than the fastest model in the Audi range – the R8 V10Plus.

Currently the most powerful A3 in Audi stable is the S3 hatch (soon to be followed in Australia by sedan and cabriolet), which produces 206kW/380Nm from its 2.0-litre turbo four-pot.

The latest concept car will sit alongside a collection of other high-performance vehicles at the Wörthersee show on Audi's stand, which this year, has been designed to resemble a pit-lane in celebration of Audi Sport.

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