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Audi RS3 Sportback Unveiled with 362 HP: This is the New Hot-Hatch King

Hot Hatch

The era of the mega-hatch is upon us.

In unveiling the new Audi RS3 Sportback with a reworked 362-hp 2.5-liter five-cylinder unit and a BMW M3-equalling 0-62 mph time of 4.3 seconds, Ingolstadt’s latest hot hatch is taking the fight directly to the Mercedes A45 AMG in a bid to become class champion. All that power, along with 343 lb-ft of torque, is mated to a seven-speed S tronic dual clutch box offering both manual and automatic shifting, along with Quattro four-wheel-drive and launch control.

To help drivers with a penchant for going sideways, Audi has created custom software specifically for the new RS3's 4WD system that combines with a multi-plate clutch to send between 50 and 100 percent of the torque to the rear axle depending on conditions. Built on a new MQB platform, using high-strength steel and a body shell with an aluminum hood, Audi has stripped 55 kg from the RS3, which now comes in at 1,520 kg. Chassis upgrades include a wider front track, an RS sport suspension that drops the height by 25 mm, 19-inch five-spoke rims, optional magnetic adaptive damping, and massive high-performance brakes. Optional carbon ceramics are worth considering for buyers that request top speed be unlimited to 174 mph.

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Distinguishing the RS3 from its lesser A3 siblings is an aggressive front end with a unique high-gloss black grille and prominent bumper with large air inlets, while a distinctive spoiler above the tailgate and integrated diffuser sit at the rear with a pair of large oval exhaust pipes. There’s also plenty of matte aluminum trim and widened side sills. Inside, Nappa leather sport seats (optional RS buckets), a leather and Alcantara-wrapped flat-bottomed steering wheel, unique instrument graphics, a leather/aluminum trimmed gear shifter, stainless-steel pedals, and Alcantara door trim, all combine to create a high-quality cabin. After debuting at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, the new RS3 Sportback will hit European showrooms in the summer.