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New 2021 Audi RS 3 spied in saloon form

Upcoming Audi RS 3 family of Sportback and saloon will have over 400bhp and five-cylinder power

The forthcoming  Audi RS 3 has been spied in both hatchback and saloon forms as it undergoes final evaluation and testing at the Nürburgring before its reveal this September. 

This is the first time we have seen the four-door version of the new RS 3, alongside the Sportback variant of the brand’s next superhatch. 

Last year, in an exclusive interview with Auto Express, Audi Sport’s Sales and Marketing chief, Rolf Michl, called the new Audi RS 3 “one of the success stories of the brand”. He attributed the car’s popularity to its five-cylinder powertrain, hinting that Audi would not look to downsize with this Mk3 model.

Michl said: “I think [the RS 3] is one of the most emotional Audi Sport cars and is a major part of the brand’s DNA, even going back to the original quattro. You can be sure that for every future RS model we will always take forward the good aspects and characteristics.”

However, Michl refused to disclose any specific details on the RS 3’s specs, stating only that it would be “some months” until the new car makes its debut, although Auto Express can reveal Audi’s upcoming Mercedes-AMG A 45 fighter will be unveiled this September, reaching UK roads before the end of 2021.

The new RS 3 has been spied numerous times in the hands of engineers at the Nurburgring, indicating that the new 400bhp+ super-hatch is in the final stages of assessment. Here’s everything we know so far. 

Audi RS 3: design and platform

Our most recently spied test cars wear less camouflage than previous mules, giving us a decent indication of the finished product’s styling. Some of the car most intricate design features – such as its vented front bumper and aggressive rear diffuser – remain masked but, what’s clear is that, like all RS-branded Audis, the new RS 3 will feature a purposeful bodykit which sets it apart from its lesser-powered A3 siblings, no matter whether it’s in hatchback or saloon form.

At the front, Audi has fitted a bolder bumper with broader intakes which, along with a pair of extra vents on the trailing edge of the front wheel arches, should help to expel hot air from the engine bay. 

The car’s side skirts are also deeper than the regular A3’s – and, at the rear of the hatch there’s a larger wing, a new diffuser and a set of oversized oval exhaust tips. The saloon features a lip spoiler at the trailing edge of the bootlid. The track appears wider too, with flared wheel arches. 

The makeover will continue inside, with a pair of heavily bolstered sports seats, a sports steering wheel, aluminium pedals and a range of RS-specific displays for the car’s 10.1-inch infotainment system and “Virtual Cockpit” digital instrument binnacle.

Like the eighth-generation Golf, the new Audi RS 3 will be based on the latest version of Volkswagen Group’s MQB underpinnings, albeit with a number of performance upgrades. Current testing mules sport chassis upgrades like lowered suspension and drilled brake discs with larger calipers – all of which should find their way onto the production model.

Audi RS 3: engine and drivetrain

As the new RS 3 will be based on the same platform as the outgoing model, Audi should also retain the current car’s turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder petrol engine – which is still used in the latest Audi RS Q3. However, the unit’s power and torque figures will increase to around 415bhp and 500Nm (over the engine’s standard output of 395bhp and 480Nm), in an effort to keep the RS 3 competitive with the 415bhp Mercedes-AMG A 45 S.

Power will be sent through a dual-clutch automatic transmission to a quattro all-wheel-drive system. Like the outgoing model, the new RS 3’s chassis and drivetrain will be supported by an arsenal of performance-facing technology, such as adjustable dampers, a torque vectoring system and an adaptive electronic power steering setup.

Audi RS 3: pricing and release date

Audi is yet to officially announce the RS 3’s on-sale date, but we expect it’ll reach UK showrooms around November 2021 after a September unveil, with prices starting from around £50,000. This would make the RS 3 roughly £11,000 more expensive than its mid-range underling, the 306bhp Audi S3.

Are you looking forward to seeing the new Audi RS 3? Let us know in the comments section below...

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