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This is the 367bhp Audi RS3
How powerful? Only the most powerful car in this class. Though that Merc boasts the most power from a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot currently in production (360bhp), Audi has stuck with its acclaimed - and tasty - 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine, here producing a considerable 367bhp and 343lb ft of torque.
It sounds good, too (we’ve already had a hot ride in a development prototype), thanks to that 1-2-4-5-3 firing sequence and optional sports exhaust, but the key pub ammo you need to unleash is thus: it’ll go from 0-62mph in just 4.3 seconds (versus 5.1s for the BMW M135i and 4.6s for the A45 AMG), and top out at a limited 155mph.
And if you ask Audi nicely (and pay them, we suspect), you can raise that limiter to 174mph. 174mph, in an A3!
It’s hooked up to a seven-speed S tronic dual clutch gearbox with two automatic modes (and a manual shift function), together with launch control and, of course, Quattro four-wheel-drive. This uses a multi-plate clutch with custom software developed specifically for this new RS3, and is able to send anything between 50 and 100 per cent of the available torque to the rear axle. Slidey.
In fact, Audi’s quite proud of this fact. “The driver is able to perform controlled drifts on low-friction road surfaces,” we’re told. There’s torque vectoring, too, a wider front track, a 25mm drop in ride height thanks to RS sport suspension, optional magnetic adaptive damping, 19-inch wheels, huge 370mm brakes up front (310mm at the rear), and many, many RS badges.
Wrapped up in its new RS suit - featuring that high-gloss black grille, air inlets, flared arches, ‘chiseled’ side sills, roof spoiler, sports seats, RS steering wheel and impeccable interior quality - it weighs in at exactly 1520kg. Which is 55kg lighter than its predecessor. Thanks, MQB platform!
Deliveries will begin next year with no word on price just yet; we’d anticipate a hefty hike over the S3 Sportback’s £32k starting price…
We’ve had a hot ride in this new RS3 - click here to read the full report. This, an M135i, or that Merc A45 AMG?