It's official; Audi has finally lifted the wraps off the all-new RS3 Sportback that will be if not the, one of the most powerful and fastest hatchbacks in the market when it goes on sale in Europe in early 2011. It adopts the TT RS' 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine producing 340-horsepower and 450 Nm (331.90 lb-ft) of torque available between 1,600 rpm and 5,300 rpm.
Weighing in at 1,575 kg (3,472.28 pounds), the RS3 completes the standard 0-100km/h (62mph) sprint in a mere 4.6 seconds, while top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h (155 mph). Audi adds that the RS3 returns an average fuel consumption of 9.1 liters per 100 km (25.9 US mpg) and emits 212 g CO2 per km (341.18 g/mile).
So what else will RS3 buyers get aside from the five-pot and quattro all-wheel drive? Starting with the chassis, Audi's RS division widened the car's front and rear tracks, and added new coil springs and redesigned shock absorbers. The RS3 sits 25 millimeters (0.98 inch) closer to the ground compared with the A3, while it rides on new 19-inch cast aluminum wheels fitted with 235/35 series tires at the front and 225/35 at the rear. The wheels come standard with machine-polished titanium-look styling, but are optionally available in black with a red rim flange.
To improve stopping power, the RS3 is fitted with internally ventilated disks measuring 370 millimeters (14.57 inches) in diameter at the front and 310 millimeters (12.20 inches) at the rear.
Furthermore, the electronic stabilization program (ESP) features a Sport mode and can be switched off entirely.
The top off the line A3 also features some styling changes but not as much as you'd expect from an RS model. On the outside, the new rims are joined by bulgier wheel arches and a bodykit comprising of a new front bumper with massive air vents, side skirts and a rear apron housing a diffuser and the twin-tailpipes. The matt aluminium mirrors and roof spoiler round off the exterior look.
Inside, the cabin has been upgraded with a flat bottom steering wheel, a pair of body hugging bucket seats up front in Fine Nappa leather with contrasting stitching, and sportier trim throughout.
For the time being at least, the RS3 will be available exclusively as a five-door Sportback model as Audi did not say if there will be a three-door model down the line. European deliveries of the RS 3 Sportback will begin in early 2011 with the base price in Germany set at €49,900 (US$68,300). No word yet if or when the RS3 Sportback will be sold in the States.