Here’s a first look at the eagerly-anticipated new Audi RS3 - which promises ‘unmatched acceleration and top speed’ in the segment.
When you’re looking for a full-blooded, pedigree compact sports car, you tend to look no further than the RS3.
And Audi says the new incarnation of its hot-hatch represents the epitome of unadulterated driving dynamics.
You get a 2.5 litre, 400 PS, five-cylinder petrol engine that now unleashes 500 Nm of torque, 20 Nm more than with the previous model.
It means the new RS3 can sprint from 0-62mph in just 3.8 seconds and then on to a top speed of 180 mph – something Audi boasts is record numbers for the segment, and it’s certainly more rapid than the latest Mercedes-AMG A45 S or Volkswagen Golf R.
But what’s really revolutionary is the RS Torque Splitter - the first ever to be fitted to an Audi vehicle.
Why is that Torque Splitter so important? It’s all about the way it distributes drive torque between the rear wheels in a fully variable manner.
And, perhaps even more crucially for petrolheads, it also means you get proper drift-ability.
An Audi boffin explains:
“Unlike the rear axle differential and the previous multiple-disc clutch package on the rear axle, the torque splitter uses one electronically controlled multiple disc clutch each on the respective drive shaft.
“During dynamic driving, the torque splitter increases the drive torque to the outer rear wheel with the higher wheel load, which significantly reduces the tendency to understeer. In left-hand curves, it transmits the torque to the right rear wheel, in right-hand curves to the left rear wheel, and when driving straight ahead to both wheels.
“This results in optimal stability and maximum agility – especially when cornering at high speeds. When driving on closed roads, the torque splitter enables controlled drifts by applying all of the engine power to just one of the rear wheels – up to a maximum of 1,750 newton meters of torque. The exact distribution of drive torque always depends on the mode selected in Audi drive select and the respective driving situation.”
In simple terms, it means the new Audi RS3 will turn into the curve better while also following the steering angle more precisely, making it more agile and predictable.
The torque splitter also compensates for oversteer by directing the torque to the wheel on the inside of the curve or, if necessary, to both wheels.
Speaking of power, that maximum 400 PS is now available earlier, and for longer, in the rev range - from 5,600 to 7,000 rpm. And it means the 0-62mph sprint time of 3.8 seconds is 0.3 seconds faster than the old RS3.
As before, there will be a Sedan and a Sportback version of the RS3 - and both also get Launch Control, enabling the RS3 to rattle through the gears, resulting in ‘heart-pounding acceleration’, says Audi.
There are seven different drive modes: comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency, RS Individual, RS Performance and RS Torque Rear, which you can scroll through depending on whether you’re dropping the kids off at school or hooning it around a racetrack.
And if you want things to get especially messy, you can switch off the ESC entirely - by holding down the button in the center console for longer than three seconds.
Elsewhere there’s uprated sports suspicion which responds quicker than before, ensuring you get optimum power to the pavement in every driving situation.
The Audi RS3 is due to arrive properly in September - so we’ll keep you posted.
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