Technology

New Audi RS 3: Aussie favourite shapes up for return

Audi has unveiled one of the most exciting cars set for sale in Australia.

The Audi RS 3 performance car is a local favourite, combining compact dimensions with thrilling performance and an unmistakeable exhaust note.

And the new model promises to be better than ever.

Powered by a development of the same 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine as before, the new RS 3 produces 294kW and 500Nm – enough to reach 100km/h in just 3.8 seconds before topping out at 290km/h.

Those were supercar numbers not long ago.

Better still, the engine retains an offbeat firing order that harks back to Audi’s early World Rally Championship successes while imitating the exotic soundtrack of a V10-powered Audi R8 or Lamborghini Huracan.

Based on a new generation of the A3 and S3 hatchback and sedan, the new machine benefits from improved connectivity and refinement. It’s more spacious than before, and promises to be an outstanding daily driver.

A revised digital dashboard with motorsport-inspired displays joins sports seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and throaty sports exhaust system in the new car.

Enthusiasts will welcome the news that Audi listened to criticism of the previous model.

Spectacular in a straight line, the outgoing RS 3 fell short of rivals such as the BMW M2 when pushed to its limits in the bends.

Safe handling with a tendency to push its nose wide of a corner’s apex did not deliver the sort of thrills pursued by keen drivers.

The new model should address that with a variety of changes including suspension with more aggressive camber settings, and the option of ultra-sticky Pirelli P-Zero Trofeo rubber.

An active rear differential similar to that of the new Mercedes-AMG A45 S or discontinued Ford Focus RS sends drive to the outside rear wheel when cornering, brining the promise of tail-happy handling in tight bends.

It even has a drift mode for closed-circuit shenanigans.

Set to arrive locally in 2022, the Audi RS 3 will be available with sedan and hatchback body styles.

Local pricing has not been announced, but we wouldn’t expect much change from $100,000.

That’s a lot of cash for a car the size of a Toyota Corolla.

But the RS 3’s supercar soundtrack, surging acceleration and the promise of engaging dynamics could make it a worthwhile purchase for petrolheads.

Particularly as Audi is increasingly focused on electric cars, suggesting the RS 3 might not be available for a long time.

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