All-new 395bhp Audi RS 3 muscles in with 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 August starting from £50,900

The all-new Audi RS 3 has been unveiled with a series of chassis upgrades and an all-new exterior design. The new RS 3 will be available as a five-door Sportback model or as a four-door saloon, and goes on sale in August priced from £50,900.

Best hot hatchbacks

When the RS 3 arrives in showrooms, it will count the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S hatchback and the CLA 45 S coupe as its closest rivals.

2021 Audi 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.

Interior, trim levels and technology

The RS 3’s interior will be marked out from the standard A3 with Alcantara suede-like upholstery, contrasting stitching, specific RS graphics for the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit digital dial cluster. The 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen features Audi’s RS Monitor, which provides data on tyre pressures, as well as engine, gearbox and brake temperatures.

Audi has revealed that the RS 3 Sportback starts from £50,900, while the RS 3 Saloon is priced from £51,900. We expect full specifications to be revealed in the coming weeks but a range of trim levels similar to the Audi RS Q3 SUV is likely, which would mean a standard base model, as well as Audi Sport Edition and Vorsprung trims.

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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