With gobs of extra performance, the M2 could have its crown taken.
BMW and Mercedes may be sweeping the floor with sales of the epic M2 and absurdly boosted AMG CLA45, but now it's Audi's turn to fire back against the competition. The answer will come in the form of the small yet capable RS3, which our spy photographers just spotted undergoing a barrage of tests at the Nurburgring. What we can see with the naked eye shows that Audi's designers have been hard at work giving the new RS3 sharper lines, ditching the rounder and softer look of the previous model in the process.
Some of these visual goodies double as functional go-fast items too. Wide side sills and oval exhaust tips that flank the rear diffuser are among these, but most notable is the more aggressive front bumper, which includes larger air intakes to provide additional cooling. The reason the extra venting is needed is because the RS3 will get a solid performance bump thanks to Audi's decision to replace the old 2.5-liter inline-five with the 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder from the TT RS. This unit will make 400 horsepower, boosting performance over the old unit's 367-hp rating and topping both the BMW M2 (which makes 365 horsepower) and the Mercedes-AMG CLA45 (pumping out 355 ponies.
This should allow a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 4.0 seconds and make 175 mph/156 mph (the top speed sans and with limiter) arrive quite quickly. To help the RS3 compete on the track, the aluminum engine will be mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, which will then send power to all four wheels via Audi's famed Quattro system. The intelligent Quattro drive will likely be able to route 100% of the power to the rear wheels if the computer determines that there is enough traction. Given how rapidly the compact luxury segment has exploded, the RS3 will bring Audi's much-needed competition to the rest of the world because unlike the RS3 Sportback, the RS3 sedan will make it to the US.