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Paris show: Audi boots up RS3

Sibling rivalry: They may share the same name but the new RS3 Sedan is lower, wider, more powerful and faster than the RS3 Sportback.

Perennial Audi five-cylinder to power even feistier RS3 Sedan

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Audi logo30 Sep 2016

AUDI has rolled out the sedan version of its ballistic RS3 at the Paris motor show, confirming suspicions that the hot four-door would share the monstrous 294kW/480Nm all-alloy five-cylinder engine that powers the new TT RS sports coupe.

With almost 300kW from just 2.5 litres, the little A3-based rocket overtakes the Mercedes-AMG CLA45 which, until now, led the small high-performance passenger segment with a 280kW/475Nm turbo four-pot.

Audi’s first RS-badged small sedan will arrive in Australia mid-2017, and while pricing is yet to be announced, customers are likely to be asked a premium over the $78,616 before on-road costs of the RS3 Sportback.

While the current RS3 Sportback and RS Q3 hellion high-rider are powered by an iron block five-cylinder turbo that can trace its DNA back to the days of 1980s Group B rallying, the RS3 Sedan engine is almost completely new.

Alloy construction has stripped 26kg from the engine compared with the ferrous feral five-pot and, combined with the traction of the quattro four-wheel drive system, the RS3 accelerates from zero to 100km/h in a fizzy 4.1 seconds.

Top speed for mere mortals is 250km/h but Audi will wind the electronic limiter out to a 280km/h V-max if you ask nicely.

All four paws are fed by Audi’s S tronic seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and variable torque distribution favours the rear axle for a more dynamic character says the German car-maker.

As is the case with all RS models, the RS3 suspension, transmission and engine behaviour can be altered with the Audi Drive Select system. Audi says the engine sound can also be altered through the system but does not detail if this is purely with the variable exhaust or sound-system trickery.

The RS3 also has another RS range feature and the ability to completely deactivate all electronic stability control systems for the most unbridled driving experience where and when it is safe, while a sport mode allows controlled oversteer.

For increased stability and a tougher look, the Sedan has a front track that measures 20mm wider than the standard A3 at 1555mm but 4mm narrower than the RS3 Sportback. At the back end the Sportback track is 1514mm wide compared with the Sedan’s 1520mm.

The Sedan’s suspension has been lowered by 25mm compared with the A3 for an overall height of 1400mm – 11mm lower than the RS3 Sportback.

Braking is handled by mighty eight-piston callipers and 370mm rotors on the front axle and smaller callipers and 310mm discs at the back, but Audi will upgrade the system to carbon-ceramic discs for a price. Wheels are 19-inch as standard.

Other than the pumped wheel arches, large-bore oval exhausts and more aggressive bumpers, the new RS3 is visually similar to the facelifted A3 range that broke cover in April this year. Customers can add a little more distance to standard versions with a choice of unique Nardo Grey or Catalunya Red paint.

Like the RS3 Sportback, the Sedan interior gets RS treatment in the form of fine leather sports seats with RS logos and body colour-matched diamond stitching, D-shaped sports steering wheel, and RS-branded illuminated door sills and instrument cluster.

As an option, customers can tick the virtual cockpit box which is proliferating the Audi range with a 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster in place of the standard black dials with red needles and a 7.0-inch MMI screen.

With the former, owners can switch to the special RS screen which displays the tachometer centrally with a colour-changing scale according to engine revs, flanked by tyre pressure, torque and G-force information.

All RS3s are supplied with a central pop-up monitor for access to the range of vehicle information, applications and entertainment options, including smartphone connectivity, Google Earth and Street View, and a permanently installed sim-card.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also included as standard.

Audi refers to a number of extra cost options as “attractive supplementary components” including a top-shelf 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system and an inductive phone charger which automatically connects the handset to the car aerial for optimum reception.

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