The Audi RS3 is revealed in these spy pictures, and at a glance, it looks like a standard S3 but the massive brakes and subtly tweaked air intakes reveal this is a mule for something a little more special.
Spotted on public roads outside the Nuburgring in Germany, details on the RS3 are still scarce but reports suggest it is expected in late 2014, with the possibility of a debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March.
Underneath the S3 body lies the running gear of the RS3, suspected to be a tuned version of the 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine found in the outgoing model. Power is expected to increase slightly, up to around 360bhp, which will be delivered through Audi’s all-wheel drive quattro system.
It’ll be underpinned by the lightweight MQB platform which should help ensure the RS3 is lighter than its predecessor. Audi will also use experience from its Ultra program to fit the RS3 with more hi-tech, lightweight materials to reduce weight even further. This will help it keep pace with the Mercedes A45 AMG, which boasts a 0-62mph time of 4.6 seconds.
Traditionally, RS models usually indicate the end of a car's lifecycle. The current RS3 was introduced only months before the whole A3 range was refreshed but in this instance Audi seems to be going against its usual regime by introducing the new RS3 earlier than first anticipated.
There are no details on pricing or spec but a price-tag similar to that of the current model, at around £39,000 is expected.