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The new Audi RS3 costs £110.75 per horsepower…
…or about £44k if you buy them all together. This or an AMG A45?
The tweaked Audi RS3 has landed in the UK at last – for the first time as a saloon as well as the five-door ‘Sportback’ hatch, and we can tell you what Officially The Most Powerful Hot Hatch On Earth will set you back. For the, um, hatch, it’s £45,250, or you can save yourself almost a grand and bag an RS3 saloon for £44,300. If you use the metric system, that’s about £110 per horsepower, by Top Gear maths.
Okay, it’s a bit pricier when you revert back to old-fashioned brake horsepower: the RS3 only has 394 of those, or 400PS in new money. Regardless, this is the hot hatch power king. The facelifted Mercedes-AMG A45’s heavily turbocharged four-cylinder puts out 376bhp, and the Ford Focus RS Mountune musters 370bhp from its 2.3-litre Mustang motor. The Audi Sport car is using its extra cylinder to good effect.
The 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine slung into the latest RS3 is the redeveloped five-pot that already lives in the current TT RS, which means it’s 18kg lighter than the old RS3’s engine, thanks to a new aluminium block.
We liked the TT RS a lot when we drove it last year, because its epic point-to-point teleporter pace wasn’t spoiled by unrecoverable understeer. The outgoing RS3, meanwhile, was a straight-line monster but tediously numb and nose-heavy to drive. It wouldn’t see which way a far less powerful car – say the ace new Honda Civic Type R, if you like – would have gone down a mildly twisting road. So if Audi Sport has learned its lesson by slotting in the lighter motor, we might finally get an RS3 worth seeking corners in. And a few extra horsepower is a choice bonus…
Maximum torque is now 354lb ft (up from 343lb ft) and is at your beck and call from 1,700-5,500rpm, or to put it bluntly, all the bloody time. As a result, Audi claims all that grunt and the standard dual-clutch gearbox will launch you from 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds. This is almost certainly a lie, because the old, less powerful RS3 went sub 4.0sec in Top Gear’s hands, and Audi doesn’t half like to play its cards close to its chest on drag times.
Top speed? It’s limited to 155mph if you’re easily satisfied, or slightly less limited to 174mph if you tickle the options list. There aren’t enough pixels in the internet to go into all the possibilities you can spec on an RS3 here. Ceramic brakes, adaptive suspension, adaptive LED ‘matrix’ lights… that’s all chapter one verse one. We say get the sports exhaust and have done with it, because the warble-tastic RS3 has been the most exotic sounding hot hatch on the planet since the first one arrived in 2011.
We’ll drive the new, faster RS3 next week, so until then let’s do some hypothetical window shopping. An AMG A45 is several thousand pounds cheaper at £41,875 (but officially slower), and a Honda Civic Type R has more Nürburgring bragging rights, but an interior stuck in 1993. No Drift Mode either, which apparently matters these days. Anyone care to declare their loyalties?