Audi shows off its new 2021 RS3
After months of teaser images and internet speculation, Audi on Monday finally unveiled its all-new and production-ready RS3. Available in both five-door Sportback and four-door Sedan forms, this Mercedes-AMG A45 S rival turns the menace dial right up to 11.
Indeed, whereas previous RS3 models always erred on the side of understated, this new model is notably more aggressive with a nose reminiscent of the firm's e-tron GT. As such you get a massive 'singleframe' honeycomb radiator grille flanked by a pair of extra-squinty LED headlamps. Matrix LED headlights are available as an option, with darkened bezels that feature digital daytime running lights around their outer downturned angles.
To accommodate a wider front wheel track (+33mm over its predecessor) the 2021 RS3 also receives a new pair of front wings resplendent with extra-flared wheel arches. Behind said arches you'll find that the Audi engineers have grafted in additional air outlets: a new aerodynamic feature designed to aid with brake cooling. 19-inch cast wheels in a 10-Y spoke design are fitted as standard, however customers can also tick the box on optional 5‑Y spokes with RS branding. The latter can be complemented by a set of sticky Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R semi-slick tires — ideal for track days or bouts of spirited road driving.
Meanwhile the rear of the new Audi RS3 gets blistered wheel arches, a redesigned bumper with an integrated diffuser plus a fruity RS exhaust system with two large oval tailpipes.
A newly developed six-piston cast iron brake system ships standard on the 2021 RS3 but customers will have the option of specifying a more powerful ceramic system that weighs 10kg less. According to Audi the presence of those new additional air outlets behind the front wheel arches reduces pad wear on both systems and improves cooling time by 20%.
As we reported before, power is provided by Ingolstadt's formidable 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged engine that has now been tuned to deliver an unchanged 294kW across a slightly broader rev-range — 5,700 to 7,000rpm versus 5,850 to 7,000rpm in the previous model. This enhanced tractability has also been complemented by a boost in torque.
500Nm (an extra 20Nm) is on tap between 2,250 and 5,600rpm. Sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed S-tronic transmission (sorry — there's no option of a manual here), these numbers translate to some impressive performance figures. In full-attack mode the new RS3 is claimed to scorch from standstill to 100km/h in 3.8 seconds. Maximum speed is limited to 250km/h but you can, for a price, extend this to 280km/h. Fit the optional RS Dynamic package and ceramic brakes and the RS3 will achieve a VO2 max of 290km/h.
Raw straight-line speed aside, Audi has also done much to advance and improve the handling characteristics of the RS3. Consequently this model sees the debut of the firm's newly developed “RS Torque Splitter” rear differential that can distribute power between the two rear wheels depending on the driver mode selected. In “Dynamic Mode” it will send more torque to the outside rear wheel for increased traction and cornering stability. However in “RS Torque Rear Mode” it will send 100% of available torque to the outside wheel, which makes the new RS3 way more tail-happy that it's ever been before.
Other notable new enhancements come in the form of a thoroughly revamped front-end, model-specific pivot bearings and stiffer lower wishbones and stabilisers. A steel-sprung RS sports suspension is fitted as standard and features newly developed shock absorbers as well as a model-specific valve system. Available as an option the RS sport suspension plus with adaptive damper control continuously adjusts each shock absorber to better suit real time road conditions, the driving situation and the mode selected in Audi drive select.
Inside the cabin you'll find a range of standard niceties including Audi's 12.3-inch virtual cockpit plus, a 10.1-inch MMI touchscreen infotainment system, RS sport seats and a flat-bottomed three‑spoke RS Sport multifunctional leather steering wheel. Accessible via the touchscreen, the RS Monitor displays readouts for coolant, engine, and transmission oil temperatures as well as tire pressures. Audi virtual cockpit plus includes displays for g‑forces, lap times and acceleration from 0‑100km/h, 0-200 km/h and quarter mile.
In terms of local availability Audi has confirmed that the new RS3 Sportback and Sedan models will be touching down on our shores during the second half of 2022. Pricing and final specifications will of course be confirmed closer to that time.