Automotive

Audi tackles road and racetrack with new RS3 models

Audi tackles road and racetrac...
The RS3 sedan will be on the market from mid-2017
The RS3 sedan will be on the market from mid-2017
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The Audi RS3 sedan sports a 394 hp five-cylinder turbo engine
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The Audi RS3 sedan sports a 394 hp five-cylinder turbo engine
The all-wheel drive RS3 sedan is designed for fun
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The all-wheel drive RS3 sedan is designed for fun
The RS3 sedan will be on the market from mid-2017
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The RS3 sedan will be on the market from mid-2017
Carbon ceramic brakes are an option on the RS3 sedan
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Carbon ceramic brakes are an option on the RS3 sedan
The RS3 LMS is ready to take on TCR racing
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The RS3 LMS is ready to take on TCR racing
The RS3 LMS drops the five-cylinder in favor of a turbo four cylinder engine
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The RS3 LMS drops the five-cylinder in favor of a turbo four cylinder engine
The LMS is designed to provide an affordable window into the world of competitive motorsport
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The LMS is designed to provide an affordable window into the world of competitive motorsport
The huge, mean-looking wing of the RS3 LMS
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The huge, mean-looking wing of the RS3 LMS
The Audi RS3 sedan is quicker than the Mercedes A45 AMG in a straight line
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The Audi RS3 sedan is quicker than the Mercedes A45 AMG in a straight line
The RS3 sedan's styling is straight out of the Audi Sport copybook
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The RS3 sedan's styling is straight out of the Audi Sport copybook
The RS3 sedan's impressive performance is channeled through all-four wheels
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The RS3 sedan's impressive performance is channeled through all-four wheels
Top view of the Audi RS3 LMS
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Top view of the Audi RS3 LMS
Quilted seats are becoming an Audi RS staple
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Quilted seats are becoming an Audi RS staple
The RS3 sedan is quicker than the hatch launched last year
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The RS3 sedan is quicker than the hatch launched last year
Under the skin of the RS3 sedan
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Under the skin of the RS3 sedan
Audi's singleframe grille features prominently on the new RS3 sedan
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Audi's singleframe grille features prominently on the new RS3 sedan
The cabin of the RS3 LMS borrows safety tech from the R8 LMS
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The cabin of the RS3 LMS borrows safety tech from the R8 LMS
The RS3 sedan's cabin is standard Audi, with lots of tech and quality materials
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The RS3 sedan's cabin is standard Audi, with lots of tech and quality materials
Under the skin of the RS3 sedan
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Under the skin of the RS3 sedan
Audi is hoping this is what the competitors will see of the RS3 LMS
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Audi is hoping this is what the competitors will see of the RS3 LMS
The wing of the RS3 LMS should provide serious downforce on the racetracks of the world
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The wing of the RS3 LMS should provide serious downforce on the racetracks of the world
The big wing and bodykit make the RS3 LMS look mean
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The big wing and bodykit make the RS3 LMS look mean
The RS3 LMS' cabin is all about business
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The RS3 LMS' cabin is all about business
A look inside the road-going RS3 sedan's engine
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A look inside the road-going RS3 sedan's engine
The new RS3 sedan was launched at the 2016 Paris Motor Show
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The new RS3 sedan was launched at the 2016 Paris Motor Show
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Amid all the electric launches at the Paris Motor Show, there was still room for a few old-fashioned petrol-powered sports cars. Audi used the 2016 Mondial l'Automobile to launch a new RS3 sedan, which eschews a trendy downsized four-cylinder engine for a raucous five-cylinder, and the race-ready RS3 LMS.

In road-going guise, the RS3 sedan is powered by a 294 kW (395 hp) five-cylinder turbo engine. That's 25 kW more than the hatch made when it launched in 2014, and 14 kW more than the recently-refreshed Mercedes A45 AMG can muster from its its heavily turbocharged four-cylinder.

That's also more than the cheaper Ford Focus RS offers, and the quick-shifting dual-clutch automatic gearbox in the Audi means its 4.1 second 100 km/h (62 mph) dash from standstill is 0.6 seconds faster than the Ford's time. Top speed is limited to 250 km/h (155 mph), but an optional package will boost that to 280 km/h (174 mph).

Carbon ceramic brakes are an option on the RS3 sedan
Carbon ceramic brakes are an option on the RS3 sedan

Putting outright performance aside, Audi is also promising the RS3 sedan will offer an engaging drive. Along with the Quattro all-wheel drive system, which can quickly punt power to the rear axle on corner exit, the stability control can brake the inside wheels to cut down on understeer. Just like the hatch there's even a mode for controlled drifting, but if it's anything like previous fast Audis you'll need to be driving like a playful rebel on sheet ice to really get sideways.

The front track is 20 mm (0.8 in) wider than the track on a regular A3 at the front, and the rear track has been expanded by 14 mm (0.6 in). Braking is handled by 370-mm (14.6-in) discs up front and 310-mm (12.2-in) discs at the rear, although carbon ceramics are also on the option list.

Opening a door reveals the RS3 sedan's interior is standard Audi, which means all the materials are of the highest possible quality, and the quilted seats manage to perfectly combine comfort and figure-hugging grabbiness. All the buttons and knobs that we poked and prodded in Paris felt perfectly damped and rock solid.

The RS3 LMS is ready to take on TCR racing
The RS3 LMS is ready to take on TCR racing

The road-going RS3 might be luxurious, but the LMS launched alongside it in Paris is anything but. Designed as a reasonably-priced entry point to the world of professional racing, the LMS drops the five-cylinder in favor of a four-cylinder motor pumping out 243 kW (330 hp).

Sure, it's 0.4 seconds slower to 100 km/h (62 mph) than the road car, but the FIA-approved fuel tank, racing safety cell, safety bucket seat and roof-mounted release hatch all mean it's completely ready to take on TCR racing in 2017.

Pricing for the road-going RS3 Sedan hasn't been announced yet, but expect to pay around US$50,000 when it lands in showrooms mid-2017. Meanwhile, the LMS will cost €99,000 (US$111,200) in club racer spec, or €129,000 ($144,900) in TCR spec with a sequential gearbox.

Sources: Audi, Audi Sport

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