The 400PS, 174mph Audi RS 3 makes history as the first saloon in the brand’s history to use a transversely mounted configuration for its evocative powerplant, which has a proven track record as a seven-time winner of an ‘International Engine of the Year’ category award.
The new 2.5 TFSI delivers a phenomenal 400PS and 480 Nm (354.0 lb-ft) of torque, available at engine speeds between 1,700 and 5,850 revolutions per minute. Such firepower allows the the compact RS model to sprint from 0 to 62 mph in just 4.1 seconds. It can attain a maximum speed of 155mph and, upon request, Audi will increase the electronically limited top speed to 174mph. The unique sound of the five-cylinder unit intensifies an already emotionally charged driving experience originating from the ignition alternating between directly adjacent cylinders and widely spaced ones. The sound can be modified via Audi drive select.
With its light-alloy crankcase, the five-cylinder engine is 26 kilograms lighter than before. It employs a dual injection into the intake manifold and into the combustion chambers, as well as the Audi valvelift system for variable control of the exhaust valves.
With lightning-fast shifting, the S tronic seven-speed dual clutch transmission transmits the power of the 2.5 TFSI to the quattro permanent all-wheel drive. Its electro-hydraulic multi-plate clutch distributes the drive torque variably between the axles. The electronic control combines superior stability with a high level of driving pleasure. The more focused the driving, the faster and more often will a large share of the torque will reach the rear axle. The result is especially agile handling characteristics.
quattro management is integrated as a standard feature in the Audi drive select dynamic handling system, as are the steering, S tronic, engine management and the adjustable exhaust flaps. The driver can individually vary the operation of these components between the three modes comfort, auto and dynamic. The same is true for the optional RS sport suspension plus with adaptive damper control.
Wheel-selective torque control, an intelligent software feature of the Electronic Stabilisation Control (ESC), rounds off the work of the all-wheel drive. In fast cornering it slightly brakes the inside wheels, which are under a reduced load. In this way it can transmit greater lateral power, making handling more fluid and stable. In addition, the RS-specifically tuned ESC comes with a sport mode for controlled drifting. The ESC can also be fully deactivated for even more engaging driving characteristics.
Progressive steering, a four-link rear axle, a tight setup and lowered by 25 millimetres relative to the standard model – the chassis of the RS 3 Saloon is the perfect partner for the powerful drive system. From its stable centre position, the RS 3 Saloon deftly tackles curves and exits with superior precision.
The front brake discs have a diameter of 370 millimetres, while eight-piston calipers with large-area linings provide optimal deceleration. Alternatively, Audi supplies carbon-fibre ceramic discs upfront.
The rear axle is fitted with brake discs which are 310 millimetres in diameter. Standard on the RS 3 Saloon are 19-inch wheels and 235/35 tyres. 255/30 tyres are optionally available for the front axle.
The Singleframe grille with its three-dimensional honeycomb design bears the quattro logo along the bottom. Underneath, a blade extends across the entire width of the front into the side air inlets, where it forms narrow funnels for better air flow through the wheel arches. LED headlights with their distinctive daytime running light signature are standard; Audi also offers matrix LED headlights as an option.
Compared with an A3, the front track of the RS 3 Saloon is wider by 20 millimetres – the front wheel arches are accordingly flared wider as well. At the rear axle the wheels are spaced 14 millimetres further apart compared with the standard model.
A fixed spoiler lip on the luggage compartment lid improves the separation of air flow. A distinctive diffuser insert with vertical struts and the large oval tailpipes of the RS exhaust system terminate the rear. Audi exclusively offers the RS-specific paint colors Nardo grey and Catalunya red as options.
The dark-toned interior welcomes the driver and passengers with illuminated door sills bearing the RS 3 logos as a standard feature. Black fine Nappa leather sport seats with RS logos on the backrests are standard. Optionally available are more contoured RS sport seats with integrated head restraints. Their covers are also diamond patterned and colour-perforated. The RS sport leather steering wheel is flattened at the bottom. Inlays at the instrument panel and at the doors complete the customary Audi Sport touches.
The flat hierarchies and intelligently linked context menus make operation of the Audi RS 3 Saloon intuitive and ergonomic. The main control element is the rotary/push-button control on the console of the centre tunnel. With the top infotainment system MMI navigation plus with MMI touch, the terminal includes a touchpad for scrolling, zooming and writing.
Additionally included is a free text search feature that automatically completes the user’s input after entering just a few letters. The voice control processes questions and commands formulated in everyday language.
As standard, a seven-inch electrically extending MMI screen is fitted. The two circular instrument dials are black with red needles and white scales. The centrally positioned driver information system includes a boost pressure indicator, an oil thermometer and a lap timer.
The fully digital Audi virtual cockpit is optionally available. On its high-resolution 12.3-inch monitor the driver can choose between three display modes. They include a special RS screen that moves the tachometer to the centre. On the left and right information appears on tyre pressure, torque and g-forces. When the transmission is operating in manual mode, a scale with a colour background prompts the driver to use the steering wheel paddle or selector lever to upshift when approaching maximum revs.
An LTE module gets the Audi RS 3 Saloon online. It brings on board the various services of Audi connect, including navigation with Google Earth and Google Street View, as well as information on fuel prices, the weather, travel and traffic. The information is displayed directly in the MMI, and operation is by way of the standard-equipped RS multifunction steering wheel, the rotary/push-button control and touchpad or by spoken command. Data is transmitted via the new Audi connect SIM, which is factory-installed in the car.
With the corresponding data flat rate the customer can immediately use the services for up to three years free of charge – even in other European countries. In addition, the navigation systems include a Wi-Fi hotspot enabling passengers to surf the web with their tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices.
The free Audi MMI connect app offers many other features, such as transferring your smartphone’s calendar to the MMI. Through Aupeo! and Napster it affords access to countless music tracks and audio books. Destinations from Google Maps, points of interest (POIs) and the entries from the “Travel” service can be transferred from your smartphone to your car’s navigation system using the app. The Audi smartphone interface brings Apple Car Play and Android Auto into the car.
Selected apps for the phone, navigation and streaming services, for example, are then directly displayed on the MMI screen. The driver can control the apps using the various operating options in the car.
Attractive supplementary components complete the infotainment lineup. The Audi phone box inductively charges the smartphone according to the Qi standard and connects it to the car antenna via near-field coupling for optimal reception quality. The Bang & Olufsen Sound System produces an excellent sound experience with 705 watts of power and 14 speakers.
The RS 3 Saloon is also at the top of its class when it comes to driver assistance systems. They keep the car at the desired distance from the vehicle in front, assist the driver when changing lanes and staying within the given lane, detect traffic signs and help avoid rear-end collisions and pedestrian accidents.
New are the traffic jam assist, which briefly takes over the steering in slow-moving traffic up to 37mph, the emergency assist, which automatically stops the car if required, and cross traffic assist rear. The latter system looks out for crossing vehicles when pulling out of a parking space.