The wait is over my good friends. Soon, the glorious rasp of the legendary Audi inline 5-cylinder turbo engine which has escaped us for so many years will be at our disposal. As a sedan only, unfortunately, and not as a hatchback, as purists might lament, but who cares. Audi is finally done playing keep away from its U.S. customers — praise the gods of the compact, turbocharged, all-wheel-drive platform.
We reported back in April that the Audi RS3 was certainly coming to the US, it was just a matter of when. Thankfully, we were right. Along with Audi’s launch of the RS3 sedan at the 2016 Paris Motor Show earlier this month came official confirmation from the German manufacturer that we will see the RS3 in America as a 2018 model, arriving sometime next summer.
The RS3’s 2.5-liter turbocharged engine is taken straight from the TT RS. With 400hp and 394lb-ft. on tap, it’ll do 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds, which we believe to be a typically conservative German estimate. Top speed is limited to 155mph, with the limiter removed 174mph is possible.
It’s a shame but no surprise that the only transmission option available will be a seven-speed dual-clutch “S Tronic” automatic. Using Audi’s legendary Quattro all-wheel-drive system, torque will be split front and rear, with a larger percentage being sent to the rear axle. Audi has not released specific numbers.
Audi is offering an interesting set of options at the front of the RS3 for those who really want to be able to fine-tune the balance of the hot sedan: 255/30 tires can be spec’d up front, instead of the standard 235/35 series that come as standard on all four corners, as well as eight-piston carbon-ceramic brakes. The wider front tires should eliminate any unwanted understeer issues serious drivers may encounter at the limit.
The RS3 will also be available with brake-based torque vectoring, although we’re unsure if that will be a standard feature or an option. Additionally, its electronic stability control system will feature “a sport mode for controlled drifting,” which I’m sure will have RS3 owners everywhere headed to their local empty parking lot for a little hooning.
Aesthetically, the RS3 does little to hide the fact that it’s got some serious muscle under the hood, and we’re fine with that. Its front bumper has larger, more aggressive air ducts, compared to the S3, which flank a racier front grille with the word “quattro” spelled out on its lower half. Simple, but sharp looking 19” wheels are a nice touch, as are the massive oval single outlet exhaust pipes, nestled at the edges of a new rear diffuser. Add that to the numerous RS3 logos scattered inside and out, and it’d be hard for someone to mistake it for a mere S3.
The only downside here is, it’s gonna cost a lot more than a mere Audi S3, which starts at $43,850. Expect to pay over $50,000 easily for one of these bad boys, a price tag that will justify itself every time you hear the RS3’s sweet 5-cylinder engine singing that familiar 1980s tune the old Audi Quattros used to belt out through the mountain passes back in the day.