Audi RS 3 Sportback returns

Audi RS 3 SportbackFollowing its initial sell-out performance in the UK, the Audi RS 3 Sportback is making a comeback, albeit one that is likely to be fleeting.

In response to consistent demand, an additional, strictly limited production run has been secured, and just 250 slots now remain for UK customers. These examples will be available at the same £39,930 OTR price as the original 500 car quota which was rapidly snapped up in 2011.

A turbocharged 2.5-litre petrol engine punches the RS 3 Sportback at the horizon to the tune of a rich, bass-heavy five-cylinder soundtrack that can be further intensified at the touch of a dashboard-mounted Sport button. A total of 340PS and 450Nm is split between the four driven wheels thanks to quattro all-wheel-drive, and passes through a standard seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission with rapid fire shifts.

As befits an RS model the impressive output of this engine is reflected in an exceptional 0-62mph sprint time of just 4.6 seconds and an electronically governed 155mph top speed. Yet less predictably, this rapidity doesn’t rule out the potential for up to 31mpg according to the combined cycle test.

Carbon fibre aids weight reduction

A delivery‑on‑demand oil pump and a regeneration system that recovers energy during deceleration help to shore up the engine’s impressive economy performance. Equally importantly, features such as the vermicular graphite engine block and carbon fibre-reinforced polymer front wings work in favour of a relatively modest 1,575kg kerb weight and a suitably strong 216PS per tonne power-to-weight ratio.

The benefits of these measures can be felt not only in the intensity of the RS 3 Sportback’s pace, but also in the agile and animated handling delivered by its lowered MacPherson strut front and four-link rear suspension. Its balance is boosted by a widened, 1,564 millimetre track, and its grip is maximised by 19-inch alloy wheels shod with 235/35 series tyres at the front and 225/35 at the rear. The quattro permanent all-wheel drive system with its electronically controlled multi-plate clutch also oversees proceedings, granting the RS 3 Sportback an extra measure of traction, composure and stability.

The RS 3 Sportback can also move more freely thanks to its specially developed electronic stability control (ESC). It features a Sport mode that activates later intervention of the braking and acceleration retardation functions to enable greater adjustability without compromising safety, and can be switched off entirely for circuit use.

Audi RS 3 SportbackHighly efficient electromechanical rack-and-pinion steering provides a suitably direct gear ratio of 16.2:1 for keen turn-in, while internally ventilated disc brakes with four-piston fixed callipers modulate speed powerfully and progressively.

A deeper front apron that incorporates enlarged air intakes, an anthracite coloured single-frame grille and xenon plus headlamps indicate to drivers in front that the RS 3 Sportback is a force to be reckoned with.

Its side view is dominated by its flared, lightweight front wings covering 19-inch alloy wheels, prominent sill extensions, mirror housings in matt aluminium look and a large roof spoiler. A high-gloss black diffuser insert and two elliptical exhaust tailpipes on the left accentuate the styling at the rear.

Inside, Fine Nappa leather-upholstered sports seats with silver contrasting stitching, Piano black or Aluminium Race look inlays, a flat-bottomed RS steering wheel and RS-specific instruments highlight this car’s status. Its Driver’s Information System is also unique to the RS 3 Sportback, displaying boost pressure and oil temperature and doubling as a lap timer.

Standard equipment includes acoustic rear parking sensors, electronic climate control, DVD-based satellite navigation with MMI (Multi Media Interface) functionality and xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lights. Optional features include front bucket seats, roof rails in matt aluminium look and styling packages in black or matt aluminium. Five exterior colours are available, plus an unlimited selection of custom paint finishes. 

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