Mega performance in a small package : 290km/h top speed, 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds, and it drifts. New Audi RS 3 Sedan and Sportback due in Singapore in 2022
SINGAPORE – Audi has announced the new version of its pocket rocket, the RS 3, and it’s due to arrive in Singapore in early 2022.
Given the car’s European pricing, we expect the cars to cost around S$300,000, with the Sedan being slightly more expensive.
It’s still the smallest RS car in the current line-up – since Singapore doesn’t have the TT RS – but on paper it looks like it makes larger performance cars irrelevant.
The new RS 3 will have a four- and five-door version – no surprise as it’s based on the regular A3, which recently debuted in Singapore in both Sportback (five-door hatchback) and sedan versions, and which we’ve already tested in Sportback form.
We’ve got the familiar RS-approach here, but the new car does make the old one look like a Q car in comparison. It’s 33mm wider in front, 10mm in the back, and a front end that’s pretty much all grille with comically-large air intakes on each side. Matrix headlights are optional and show a chequered flag animation as a welcome sequence. The rear sees the standard large, dual oval exhausts and a diffuser.
The RS 3 is powered by the excellent inline five-cylinder turbo found in the current RS 3 and RS Q3 and RS Q3 Sportback. On paper it has the same power as the current model – 400hp – although it now accelerates much faster: 0-100km/h is done in only 3.8 seconds, that’s 0.3-seconds quicker than before.
If that doesn’t sound like much, keep in mind that under the 5.0 second mark, the lower the time, the more engineering you need – not to mention that anything sub-four seconds is mad quick, in real life terms.
The increase in pace is due to more torque, better overall traction from improved tyres and drive systems. The new car makes 20Nm of torque extra now, though in a slightly smaller band – 2,250 to 5,600rpm compared to 1,700-5,850rpm. Top whack is 250km/h, but can be extended to 280km/h, or even 290km/h with the optional RS Dynamic Package and ceramic brakes.
Audi Sport also says that the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission has been improved with shorter shift times and gear ratios. Also new is a fully variable flap system – previously it was purely on or off – which now provides intermediate stages of growl.
The new RS 3’s new party trick is drifting.
A fully-electronically controlled rear differential – named the Audi Torque Splitter – controls each of the rear wheels, enabling full torque vectoring to each rear wheel – more torque to the outer right wheel in a left-handed corner, for instance. That should deliver more agility than even the current Audi Sport Differential, which can already vector torque between the rear wheels, but on a more limited basis.
Audi development driver and racer Frank Stippler says the new RS 3 understeers less at the limit, unlike most all-wheel drive cars, since the system distributes more weight onto the rear axle and gives a general oversteer dynamic, and that,”… the car is much more agile in its driving from the middle of the curve to the end and also when accelerating out of the curve.”
Audi claims the system can send up to 1,750Nm of torque to an individual rear wheel, which is what makes drifting possible. Audi Sport made a drift mode precisely for this purpose, the special ‘RS Torque Rear’ mode. Also new on the RS 3 is a new track-biased mode, RS Performance mode, which is tailored for optional semi-slicks (Pirelli P Zero “Trofeo R”).
It’s not a new trick, as the BMW M5, Mercedes-AMG E 63 S, and even the CLA 45 and forthcoming VW Golf R can do this. But it will be very interesting, and emotional, to finally drift an Audi on command.
As expected, the suspension setup is bespoke to the RS 3, being 25mm lower than the standard A3, with stiffer components and reinforcement, and tuning nerds will be glad to know there’s more negative camber than the regular car – one degree on the front wheels, and half a degree on the rear. Adaptive RS suspension is an option.
Modular vehicle dynamics controller (mVDC), sort of like a brain for better driving synergy between all the systems on board – a similar system exists on Mercedes-AMG cars, termed AMG Dynamics – though we’re not sure if you can tune the system to your liking as a separate function, or if it’s integrated into the existing drive modes (likely the latter).
In 2017 we tested the current RS 3 Sedan, which is where we got the idea that a (sane) person probably doesn’t need more performance than this, especially in Singapore. In an era where a CLA 45 makes 400hp and delivers similar thrills, you really do need to ask yourself – do I need more? Then again, if you’re looking to buy an AMG, M, or RS car in Singapore, you wouldn’t even ask yourself that sort of question.