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Geneva show: Audi RS3 Sportback joins refreshed A3

Firepower: The 2.5-litre turbo-petrol engine deployed in the new Audi RS3 Sportback is the most world’s powerful production five-cylinder, enabling this hyper-hatch to crack zero to 100km/h in just 4.1 seconds.

Ballistic five-pot from TT RS, RS3 sedan finds home inside RS3 Sportback

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Audi logo10 Feb 2017

AUDI has completed the mid-life refresh of its popular A3 small car range, with the RS3 Sportback gaining its sedan sibling’s all-aluminium 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo-petrol engine, producing 294kW of peak power and 480Nm of torque.

The extra 24kW and 15Nm of firepower, backed by the fact the new powerplant is 26kg lighter than its iron-blocked predecessor, enables the facelifted RS3 to scorch from zero to 100km/h in just 4.1 seconds – 0.2s quicker than before.

It also out-punches its most direct rival, the also all-wheel-drive Mercedes-AMG A45, which makes do with 280kW and 475Nm and is a tenth of a second slower to triple digits.

For those wanting ultimate pace, Audi will lift the RS3 Sportback’s electronic speed limiter from 250km/h to 280km/h.

The A45 is similarly limited to 250km/h as standard but even with the AMG Driver’s Package optioned, it chickens out at 270km/h.

Just in case anyone in the market for a car like this cares, the A45 hits back with an unfeasibly low fuel consumption figure of 6.9 litres per 100 kilometres that makes the new RS3 look thirsty at 8.3L/100km on the European combined cycle.

But the five-cylinder engine’s party trick is its ability to produce maximum outputs over a broad rev range. All 294 kilowatts are available from 5850 to 7000rpm and the full 480Nm comes in at 1700rpm and lasts all the way to 5850rpm.

Styling wise, the updated RS3 is most obviously altered at the front, where it inherits the facelifted A3’s angular grille opening and split-level headlight design.

Marking this out as a sports flagship is a more deeply recessed lower grille with thicker silver inlay that has space for large quattro lettering previously applied to a panel beneath the number plate.

The lower bumper is more complex than previously, with a prominent silver “blade” that flows into brake cooling ducts at its outer edges and additional air-channelling openings closer to the central radiator grille.

By contrast, the RS3 sedan revealed at the Paris show last September had its grille surround and splitter finished in a more subtle black, which also replaced the chrome mirror housings and window surrounds applied to the Sportback in official photos.

Inside, an RS3-specific version of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital instrument panel places the tachometer in the centre of the display, with turbo boost pressure, oil temperature, torque output, g-force and tyre pressure information available at a glance.

There is also a lap timer and colour-change feature to provide the driver with visual cues for optimal gear selection using the paddle-shifters to control the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

In Europe, the RS3 Sportback will start to roll out from August, and Audi Australia said that it will land Down Under in the third quarter of this year.

Audi Australia will launch the RS3 sedan, as well as the TT RS coupe and convertible with which it shares an engine, around the middle of this year.

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