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Driven: Audi returns AMG fire with RS3

Hot German: Audi’s RS3 is ready to take the fight to Mercedes’ wildly successful A45 AMG hatch.

Audi brings a new weapon to the compact prestige battle with spicy RS3

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Audi logo2 Oct 2015

AUDI’S most affordable RS model so far has arrived in Australian showrooms tasked with doubling the brand's performance-honed RS and Audi Sport sales.

The RS3 Sportback carries a starting price of $78,900 plus on-road costs, a slight handicap on its primary opposition from Mercedes with its A45 AMG hatch that retails for $75,800, but it packs a bit more punch in terms of power.

Audi Australia managing director Andrew Doyle said he believes the “uncompromising performance” of the sharply priced new RS model will have an impact on the segment.

Mr Doyle said the new A3 flagship tops a range that has been “incredibly successful” for the brand in Australia, with the range currently leading its highly competitive segment.

“We see genuine volume appeal for this newest RS model, in fact we believe it has the potential to double our RS and Audi Sport sales overall,” he said.

“While the first model achieved worldwide acclaim, we weren't able to introduce the first generation here although we had consistent strong interest from customers.

“For this reason we are now delighted to present the most powerful compact car in the premium segment ... under the bonnet of this car breathes the most powerful five-cylinder ever to go into an RS model,” he said.

An order bank of 350 has already been built up for the new RS3, which is expected to sell around 800 in its first 12 months on sale.

The demand for Australian-delivered cars is unsurprising given the added standard specification for a lower cost price than the same model in Europe.

The RS3 Sportback is powered by the 2.5-litre direct-injection 20-valve double overhead cam intercooled five-cylinder turbo, delivering 270kW (five more kiloWatts than the TT RS powerplant) and 465Nm to all four wheels by way of a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission, while delivering a five-cylinder soundtrack through an RS-specific active exhaust system fitted as standard to Australian-spec vehicles.

That’s a solid jump up from the $61,100 S3’s 210kW and 380Nm, which completes the zero to 100km/h dash in five seconds and also has the option of a six-speed manual, which claims 5.4 seconds to 100km/h.

The RS3’s peak power is on offer between 5550 and 6800rpm, with the torque available from 1625 through to 5550rpm top speed is governed to 250km/h or it can be lifted to 280km/h.

Weighing in at 1520kg, the five-door hot hatch lays claim to a combined fuel consumption figure of 8.1 litres per 100 kilometres, which is a little thirstier than the A45 AMG’s 6.9L/100km figure from its 265kW/450Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo unit.

The RS3 races from 0-100km/h in 4.3 seconds, pipping the claim for A45 AMG by 0.3s fourth gear from 60 to 100km/h takes 4.1s and 80-120km/h in fifth gear takes 5.8s.

The RS-tuned quattro all-wheel drive system is capable of sending all its drive aft as required.

Stopping power is supplied by eight-pot front callipers gripping 370mm drilled front discs, with 310mm rear discs wrapped in single-piston callipers the system also supplies torque vectoring force on the inside wheels.

Front carbon-ceramic discs, identical in size and calliper count but one-third of the steel stoppers’ weight are optionally available at a cost of $8990.

Standard safety features include dual front, front-side and curtain airbags, as well as a driver’s knee airbag, tyre pressure monitoring (and a puncture repair kit), rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming centre mirror, stability and traction control with the front electronic diff lock.

Standard fare on the RS3 includes LED automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights, interior and tail-lights, sat-nav, digital radio, Bluetooth and USB-equipped infotainment system, front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera.

The RS influence on the exterior includes 19-inch alloy wheels, RS specific front and rear bumpers and bodykit, with the sports seats and leather/suede sports steering wheel with aluminium shift paddles completing the look within.

The RS Performance Package – a $6490 option – adds 19-inch alloy wheels, the Audi magnetic ride adjustable suspension system, a 14-speaker Bang and Olufsen sound system, carbon trim, RS design red brake callipers and ups the front wheel width from 235 (all round) to 255 on the front.

Externally the trim surrounds for the front grille can be altered to matte aluminium or high-gloss black for an extra $1600 and the interior can also be upgraded with the $1950 RS design package to add red highlights to the cabin.

An active safety upgrade package adds adaptive cruise control, the pre-sense accident prep system, active lane assist and auto high beam for $1600.

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