First look at the new Audi RS3

Next-generation Audi RS3 hot hatchback will have more power to take on 415bhp Mercedes-AMG A45 S

  • RS3 will be available as a saloon and hatchback
  • Likely to feature same 2.5-litre petrol engine as current car but with more power
  • Expected to be revealed in next few months

The new Audi RS3 has been spotted ahead of its launch this summer. It’s the first time we’ve seen the new car, with the latest images showing the hatchback and saloon in light camouflage.

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Power will increase over the outgoing model to compete more closely with the 415bhp Mercedes-AMG A45 S, and prices will increase as result; expect the new RS3 to cost almost £50,000.

2021 Audi RS3: design

While the light disguise does obscure some of the design features, it’s clear that the RS3 will stand out from the normal Audi A3 range. Both the hatchback and saloon feature swollen wheel arches, sporty front and rear bumpers and two large exhaust pipes. The hatchback looks to have a prominent rear spoiler, while the saloon boasts a lip spoiler on the bootlid.

The nose will also feature a meshed grille pattern and a splitter to channel airflow. The RS3 looks set to have bigger wheels than the S3 model, which comes with 18-inch alloys as standard and 19-inch versions as an option.

Engine and performance

The prototypes give the biggest hint yet that the 2021 Audi RS3 will stick with the 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine from its predecessor. The ‘1-2-4-5-3’ graphics on the sides of both prototypes are a reference to the firing order of the five-cylinder engine. This engine already features in the Cupra Formentor VZ5 and Audi TT RS. Audi has confirmed it won’t develop any new petrol engines, instead tweaking existing units to make them meet the latest emissions regulations. Once again, Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system and an automatic gearbox will be fitted as standard.

The current RS3 has just under 400bhp but we expect the new version to have well over that. For the past few years, Audi and Mercedes have fought to have the most powerful hot hatchback on sale, and the 415bhp Mercedes-AMG A45 S currently wears the crown. As a result, the new RS3 is likely to have even more power. Its 0-62mph time should be reduced by a couple of tenths of a second as a result, bringing it comfortably below four seconds.

Interior, trim levels and technology

The RS3’s interior will be marked out from the standard A3 with Alcantara suede-like upholstery, red contrasting stitching, specific RS graphics for the two screens and aluminium pedals. As for optional extras, we expect the brochure to include a sports exhaust and adaptive suspension.

Not only will you be able to choose between saloon or hatchback, but there’s likely to be a choice of specifications too. Judging by the Audi RS Q3 SUV, we expect a base version to be joined by Sport Edition and Vorsprung models, with increasing levels of equipment. The mid-range model may have tinted, upgraded LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof and a sports exhaust, while the Vorsprung trim has featured carbon-fibre touches, an upgraded sound system and a Driver Assistance pack elsewhere in the Audi range.

Inside, almost everything has changed from the previous A3. There’s a 10.1-inch touchscreen mounted in the dashboard that’s slanted towards the driver, Audi’s Virtual Cockpit is fitted as standard and most parts have been redesigned from the old A3.

Read our review of the current Audi RS3, or see where it features on our list of the fastest hot hatchbacks on sale right now.

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