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Audi’s RS3 Sportback revealed

Beastie: Audi’s RS3 will be powered by a 270kW/465Nm turbo-petrol five-cylinder engine capable of rocketing the five-door hatch from 0-100km/h in 4.3 seconds.

When Audi’s RS3 Sportback lands here in 2015 it will be hunting Benz’s A45 AMG

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Audi logo13 Dec 2014

By RICHARD BERRY

IN A much-anticipated reply to Mercedes-Benz’s ballistic A45 AMG, Audi has unveiled its new RS3 Sportback which it hopes will knock its German rival from the premium performance hatch top spot.

Under the bonnet of the five-door hatch is the most powerful five-cylinder engine ever to go into an RS model. Making 270kW and 465Nm it’s the latest generation of Audi’s 2.5-litre turbo-petrol unit and capable of throwing the hatch from 0-100km/h in 4.3 seconds.

That’s 0.3 seconds faster than the previous RS3 (which never made it to Australia), 0.6 seconds quicker than Benz’s A45 AMG with its 265kW/450Nm turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine.

Whether that gap is wide enough remains to be seen as Mercedes plans to launch an updated A-Class next year which could mean the A45 AMG gets even more grunt and takes back its premium hyper-hatch crown.

The quattro permanent all-wheel drive RS3 comes with a seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission which Audi says returns an average combined fuel consumption of 8.1 litres per 100 kilometres.

Sitting 25mm lower than the regular A3, the RS3 has been fitted with specifically designed components, including the pivot bearing on the front axle, progressive steering, sport suspension and optional magnetic ride active dampers.

Rolling on 19-inch alloy wheels buyers can also option carbon-fibre ceramic brake discs at the front.

Audi Australia senior product communications executive Shaun Cleary said the RS3 is what enthusiasts have been asking for.

“The RS3 Sportback offers scintillating performance in an entirely new segment for us in Australia,” he said.

“It’s exactly what enthusiasts have been telling us that they want to see from Audi, and so we are very confident of its success.”

Expected to debut at the Geneva motor show in March next year, the RS3 will arrive in Australia at the end of 2015.

Audi Australia said pricing would be announced closer to the launch date. As the new flagship of the A3 line-up, the RS3 will sit above the S3 Sportback which is priced at $59,900, plus on-road costs.

In the first 11 months of this year Audi has sold 2677 S, RS or R8 badged cars accounting 15 per cent of its total sales - a 188 per cent increase on the same period last year.

The positive reception to its sporty models has led to the German car-maker to announce that it will launch RS versions of it top-selling models earlier in their lifecycle.

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