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“We haven’t finalised the output of the next Audi RS3,” says Heinz Hollerweger, managing director of Quattro GmbH, “but it’ll probably get around 360bhp.”

A beat. “Will it get more than 400bhp? Well, let’s see.”

Thought that might have piqued your interest. Heinz Hollerweger is the man in charge of everything fast at Audi, and fittingly, screeches up to meet in a race-livered Audi RS7 with the inscription ‘Holli’ on the side. This man likes fast.

We pick his brains about the new RS3 (current version pictured above, having some fun). It’ll be here by the end of 2015, and will come with “an engine that corresponds to the heritage of Audi,” Heinz confirms. “That will be a five cylinder. We want to maintain our heritage on the RS models.”

So it’ll be a development of the 2.5-litre currently sitting in the RS Q3; an engine that can apparently handle at least 520bhp, according to the incredible Clubsport Quattro concept built for Worthersee. It won’t be a variation of the bombastic 2.0-litre turbo four-pot doing business in the S3 and Golf R.

I mention to Heinz the Mercedes 355bhp four-cylinder in the A45 AMG, and he smiles. “I don’t want to talk about competitors, but at Geneva we showed you a TT Coupe with 420bhp in a four-cylinder engine, so we know how to make lots of power from a small four-cylinder. Maybe we could do a small series on this engine. For RS though, I have to keep a five cylinder.”

That Worthersee Clubsport concept is relevant to the future of the RS3, too. “I think what we want to learn from the four-door Clubsport Quattro concept in terms of our next RS3 is how the market responds to a small, RS saloon,” Heinz says.

“This is the most important lesson: we could have put that 2.5-litre five cylinder engine in the Sportback for the Clubsport Quattro concept, but we want to see the acceptance of this saloon package in the US and Chinese markets.”

So the Clubsport Quattro concept was essentially a teaser, to test the world’s reaction to an RS3 saloon. I ask whether it risks treading on the toes of a future RS4 saloon, and Heinz laughs. “Right now we’re just looking at whether a saloon RS3 is possible or not. We haven’t made any final decisions about building this car just yet.”

So, just a Sportback for now, then? “We are absolutely on schedule for the development of the Sportback RS3 for next year,” Heinz confirms. It’ll definitely get a DSG gearbox – as expected – but, interestingly, Heinz is “also thinking about a manual, though nothing is definite just yet.”

Something is definite though – next year’s RS3 won’t get an electric motor to boost power output. But don’t rule it out for future RS models. “There hasn’t been a discussion about supplementing the RS3’s performance with hybrid power.”

Heinz pauses. “There are, I think, different goals: in the RS models and with the Clubsport concept, we want to offer really high performance cars.

“The standard A3 is more suited to these hybrid packages with long-range electric possibilities, but maybe in the future we can think about high performance cars with electric supply. They’ll only ever help performance though, and we’ll only do it once we can keep the weight down. It would ruin the [weight] savings we’ve made on the new MQB platform.”

So at least 360bhp, no hybrid gubbins, four-wheel drive and maybe even a manual ‘box: looking forward to that new RS3?

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