Take your pick: the Audi RS 3 Sedan and RS 3 Sportback
Take your pick: the Audi RS 3 Sedan and RS 3 Sportback
Image: Supplied/Audi South Africa

With its high-tech suspension, a new five-cylinder engine with best-in-class performance and a sharper look, the all-new Audi RS 3 Sedan and RS 3 Sportback are at the top of their class.

RS-specific interior details and the unmatched sound of the 2.5 TFSI engine complete the emotional driving experience.

The five-cylinder engine is a legendary element of Audi’s DNA. Now, with 294 kW, it will take up pole position worldwide – not only in the RS 3 Sportback but also in the RS 3 Sedan. Both models offer customers an attractive entry into the RS world.

The Audi RS 3 Sportback has a successful history in South Africa. The first generation, produced in limited numbers for global distribution, redefined the segment. Audi South Africa delivered 174 of those units in the local market. It was followed by the second generation in 2015, which sold 265 units.

Engine

Since 2010, the 2.5 TFSI has been voted “International Engine of the Year” in its class for seven consecutive years. Now, Audi presents a new version of the successful power unit.

The turbo engine that drives the new RS 3 Sedan and Sportback is the most powerful series-production five-cylinder engine in the world, catapulting these vehicles from zero to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds.

Weight reduction

The new five-cylinder engine is 26kg lighter than its predecessor, which is of considerable advantage to the RS models with regard to the axle load distribution and gross weight. The curb weight of the RS 3 Sedan is 1,515kg, while the RS 3 Sportback weighs in at 1,510kg.

Elaborate measures on the 2.5 TFSI reduce internal friction while increasing power output. Its crankcase was changed from compacted graphite iron to aluminium. The cylinder barrels are plasma-coated and the main crankshaft bearings are 6mm smaller in diameter. The crankshaft is hollow bored and is therefore 1kg lighter, while the aluminum pistons have integrated channels for oil cooling. 

The start-stop and recuperation systems also help improve efficiency. In the New European Driving Cycle, both models consumed 8.3 litres of fuel per 100km.

The Audi RS 3 Sedan
The Audi RS 3 Sedan
Image: Supplied/South Africa

Drivetrain

The seven-speed S tronic is standard on both RS 3 models. The lower gears of the compact dual-clutch transmission are dynamically short while the seventh gear has a long ratio to reduce fuel consumption.

Drivers can let the seven-speed S tronic operate automatically or change gear themselves using the selector lever or the steering-wheel paddles. There is also a choice of two driving programs in automatic mode. In D mode, the engine is optimised for everyday traffic. In S mode, the engine is designed for more agility and the revs are higher. Gears are shifted almost imperceptibly within 100ths of a second.

Variable power distribution: the quattro drive

The quattro permanent all-wheel drive combines gripping dynamism with considerable stability. Its central component is the electronically controlled, hydraulically activated multiplate clutch, which is mounted at the rear axle for reasons of axle load distribution.

The multi-plate clutch uses software tailored specifically to the RS 3. It distributes the drive torque quickly to the front and rear axle as required. Depending on the driving style and coefficient of friction, 50%–100% of the available drive force can be sent to the rear axle.

An electrically driven pump presses the plates in the clutch together with a maximum oil pressure of 40 bar. As soon as the grip on the road is reduced or the driver adopts a more sporty driving style, the clutch can direct some of the drive force to the rear axle when turning into a corner.

In addition to the quattro drive, Audi drive select affects the operation of the gas pedal, S tronic, steering assistance and the exhaust flaps.

Image: Supplied/Audi South Africa

Exterior design

The sporty character of the RS 3 Sedan and RS 3 Sportback is visible at first glance: the front, sides and rear boast striking new design details.

The Singleframe is more sculpted than before. Its black gloss, three-dimensional honeycomb grill and the quattro logo on the sloping lower segment accentuate the vehicle’s dynamism. A frame with a matte aluminium look further emphasises the grill.

The newly designed blade in the bumper is also noticeable. It turns up at the ends, forming narrow, upright funnels at the same height as the side air inlets, which have the same honeycomb structure. This makes the front appear wider still. The housing of the exterior mirrors on both RS models has a matte aluminium look.

The headlights, also sporting a new design, stand out thanks to their jagged lower edge. They form a striking light graphic. LED units are standard and Audi offers precision-controlled Matrix LED headlights as an option.

At the rear, the RS 3 Sedan demonstrates its power with a distinctive diffuser insert divided by vertically running struts. The large elliptic tailpipes of the RS sports exhaust system round it out on either side.

While the sculpted rear of the Sportback is dominated by a distinctive RS roof-edge spoiler, the sculpted rear of the Sedan is characterised by the RS-specific spoiler lip on the trunk lid, which improves the break-away of the air flow. Both models are available in eight colours, including the RS-specific tones Nardo Grey and Catalunya Red. 

The Audi RS 3 Sportback
The Audi RS 3 Sportback
Image: Supplied/South Africa

Interior and infotainment

Distinctive lines, clear ergonomics and high-quality craftsmanship: the dark-toned interior of the compact RS models captivates with an atmosphere of cultivated dynamism. It welcomes the driver and passengers with illuminated door sills bearing the RS 3 logos as a standard feature.

Technical materials underline the cool, sporty character while soft surfaces provide for noblesse. The Sedan is equipped with sport seats in black fine Nappa leather, with contrast stitching in grey or red creating a visual highlight. Alternatively, RS sport seats with sharply contoured side bolsters and integrated head restraints are also available. Their covers are quilted in a diamond pattern and colour perforated.

Also available on the RS 3 is the optional Audi virtual cockpit, optimised to the RS model by shifting the rev counter to the centre. The optional RS design package emphasises the air vents with red accent rings and creates further visual highlights using contrast stitching. The door trim inserts are made of Alcantara while the pedals and footrest are in stainless steel.

The flat hierarchies and intelligently linked context menus make the operation of the RS 3 Sedan intuitive and ergonomic. The driver can reach often-used functions in a few steps. The main control element is the round rotary/push-button control on the console of the centre tunnel, which also has an additional joystick function in conjunction with the MMI navigation. In the case of MMI navigation plus with MMI touch, the surface of the rotary/push-button control features a touchpad.

Optionally available in combination with the MMI navigation plus is also the Audi smartphone interface, which integrates selected apps into the car using Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. This includes, among others, applications for telephone and streaming services that appear in a separate MMI menu.

Attractive supplementary components complete the infotainment line-up. The Audi phone box wirelessly links the smartphone to the vehicle’s antenna, guaranteeing optimum reception. It also charges the mobile phone inductively using the Qi standard. The Bang & Olufsen sound system fills the interior with 705W of music power using 14 loudspeakers. Anodised aluminium elements decorate the bezels of the woofers, while LED light guides emit white light.

Standard equipment

The following equipment will be offered on the Audi RS 3 Sedan and RS 3 Sportback as standard:

  • 19” alloy Audi Sport wheels
  • Four-link rear suspension
  • Acoustic windscreen
  • Aluminium matt styling package
  • Audi drive select
  • Audi music interface and sound system
  • Bluetooth interface
  • Brake-pad wear indicator
  • Cruise control
  • Deluxe automatic air conditioning
  • Driver & front passenger airbag with knee airbag & front passenger airbag deactivation
  • Driver information system with colour display
  • Electronic stabilisation program
  • Exterior mirror housings in matt aluminium look
  • Fine Nappa leather trim with contrasting stitching
  • Front sports seats with height adjustment and retractable thigh support
  • Folding rear-seat back
  • Indirect tire-pressure monitoring system
  • Inlays in 3D-design Optic titanium grey
  • Interior mirror with automatic anti-glare action
  • Isofix child seat mounting for outer rear seat & passenger seat
  • LED headlights & taillights including dynamic indicators
  • Leather-covered multifunction sports steering wheel, three-spoke, flat-bottomed, with shift paddles
  • Lighting package
  • Parking system plus with selective display
  • Sports suspension
  • Start/stop system
  • Storage compartment and luggage compartment package
  • Tyre repair kit
  • Pedals and footrest in stainless steel
  • Progressive steering
  • Audi quattro
  • Rear fog lights
  • Rear spoiler
  • RS bumpers
  • RS sports exhaust system
  • Scuff plates in door apertures (illuminated)
  • Separate daytime running lights
  • Side airbags at front and head airbag system 

Pricing

The Audi RS3 range will be priced as follows, standard with the five-year/100,000km Audi Freeway Plan and inclusive of all taxes:

  • Audi RS3 Sedan 2.5 TFSI quattro S tronic: R925,500
  • Audi RS3 Sportback 2.5 TFSI quattro S tronic: R895,500

This article was paid for by Audi.

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