All-new 395bhp Audi RS 3 gets starting price of £50,900

The 2021 Audi RS 3 hot hatchback gets aggressive styling and upgraded technology to take on the Mercedes-AMG A45 S

  • New RS 3 is available as a saloon and hatchback
  • Features a 2.5-litre petrol engine producing 395bhp
  • On sale in now starting from £50,900 for the hatchback and £51,900 for the saloon

The new Audi RS 3 is now on sale in the UK. The five-door Sportback starts from £50,900 and the four-door saloon is £51,900. The first customer cars are scheduled to arrive this November.

Top 10 best hot hatchbacks 2021

As Audi’s flagship performance model of the A3, the new RS 3 has a 395bhp 2.5-litre petrol engine and will count the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S hatchback and the CLA 45 S coupe as its closest rivals.

2021 Audi RS 3: interior, trim levels and prices

Buyers can order an RS 3 in four trim levels. The standard version has 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit digital dial cluster that features specific RS graphics and a 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen. The latter comes with Audi’s RS Monitor, which provides data on tyre pressures, as well as engine, gearbox and brake temperatures.

Standard interior features include Nappa leather sports seats, heated front seats and dual-zone climate control. Prices for the base RS 3 start at £50,900. The RS 3 saloon costs £1,000 more than the hatchback across the range.

The RS 3 Carbon Black model increases the starting price to £55,550. This trim adds matte black 19-inch alloys, a gloss black front splitter and upgraded Matrix LED headlights. Elsewhere, carbon fibre wing-mirror caps, side skirts, rear spoiler and engine cover are also fitted.

There’s also an RS 3 Launch Edition, which is limited to just 96 examples for the UK market. It gets several upgrades including a sports exhaust, a panoramic sunroof, red brake calipers, adaptive suspension and a tweaked electronic speed limiter increasing the top speed to 174mph.

Inside, upgraded equipment includes electrically adjustable front seats, a head-up display, wireless smartphone charging, gloss black interior trim and a Bang & Olufsen premium stereo system. Prices for the Launch Edition spec car starts from £56,900.

The flagship of the range is the RS 3 Vorsprung, at £58,650. This piles on standard equipment further still with black 19-inch alloys, a 360-degree parking camera and an electronically operated tailgate.

Buyers can spec the RS Dynamic pack on all versions of the RS 3. It adds an array of upgraded parts including adaptive suspension, ceramic brake discs and a sports exhaust system. The pack also increases the car’s top speed to 180mph. It costs £5,000 extra on the Carbon Black and Vorsprung trims, increasing to £5,500 on the entry-level RS 3.

Design

The RS3 features angular flared wheel arches that give the car a wide stance. In total, the lateral distance (known as the ‘track’) between the wheels is 33mm greater than it is on the standard A3.

At the front, a black singleframe honeycomb grille is fitted, along with a redesigned front bumper boasting larger air intakes than the regular car. Other changes to the nose include a pair of LED headlights, which can be upgraded to matrix LED versions that add a small checkered flag design in the lower part of each headlight unit.

The side of the car gets deeper side skirts with a gloss black insert, along with black 19-inch alloy wheels. At the back, the bumper is more prominent, and features a full-width black trim piece sporting a honeycomb design and a gloss black diffuser housing a pair of large oval exhaust pipes. The Sportback version gets a large rear spoiler across the roofline, while the saloon has a lip spoiler on the bootlid.

Buyers will be able to spec an RS 3 with several styling options, including a carbon fibre pack that replaces the wing mirror caps, side skirt inserts and rear spoiler with carbon versions. There’s also a pair of new paint colours exclusive to the RS 3 lineup, called Kyalami Green and Kemora Grey.

Engine and performance

Audi’s latest iteration of the RS 3 is powered by the same 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine as its predecessor, which produces 395bhp. This engine already features in the Cupra Formentor VZ5 and Audi TT RS.

While this power figure is the same as the old RS 3, Audi’s engineers have reworked the engine so it delivers more pulling power across the rev range. As before, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox sends power to all four-wheels via a quattro all-wheel drive system.

With launch control activated, the new RS 3 sprints from 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds flat, which is 0.3 seconds quicker than the old car. Top speed is 180mph with the optional RS Dynamic package, which adds carbon ceramic brakes that save 10kg in weight.

Other new chassis features include the RS Torque Splitter, a new rear differential setup that can divert all of the engine’s power to the rear wheels or to just one individual wheel if needed. The RS 3 also sits lower than an S3, with a 10mm drop in ride height thanks to new suspension.

Five driving modes are available, with the Comfort/Efficiency sending the majority of power to the front wheels for normal driving. Above this, the Auto setting automatically splits power evenly between the front and rear wheels based on which axle has the most traction. The Dynamic setting sends more power to the rear wheels to make the car more playful.

The two remaining modes are designed for use on a track, with the RS Performance setting utilising the RS Torque Splitter rear differential to minimise oversteer and understeer in faster corners. The final setting is the RS Torque Rear, which is capable of sending all of the engine's power to the outside rear wheel in corners, meaning the driver can perform tyre-smoking drifts. The car’s electronic stability control can also be adjusted to one of three settings as well, which determines the angle of drift allowed.

Read our review of the current Audi RS 3, or see where it features on our list of the fastest hot hatchbacks on sale right now.

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