The all-new 395hp Audi RS3 is properly drifty this time around

Same engine, more outgoing personality
by Vijay Pattni | Jun 22, 2021
PHOTO: Audi
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A new Audi RS3 is coming, and before too long, we’ll see the entire car, shorn of its camouflage and ‘1-2-4-5-3’ decals—the latter a not-so-subtle shorthand for its five-cylinder engine.

Audi has released a raft of new details and more camouflaged images of the Mercedes-AMG A45 S rival, and here are the main headlines to take away and digest/argue incoherently about with loved ones.

1) It’s (still) got a 395hp five-cylinder engine.

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RS3 enthusiasts—and rivals—will note this new car produces exactly zero more horsepower than the outgoing RS3, and is therefore still outgunned by that madcap Mercedes-AMG A45 S (409hp). Still, nearly 400 horses is a decent slug of power.

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Instead, progress has been made in the form of torque—the last RS3 produced 479Nm, whereas the new RS3 produces...500Nm. A mild increase, delivered over a wider rev range (2,250rpm to 5,600rpm).

You might think Audi has misunderstood the definition of ‘progress,’ but it is there in ways you can literally feel.

2) Somehow, it accelerates even faster than before.

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Audi says this new car will accelerate from 0-100kph in 3.8sec—three-tenths faster than the old car. But the old car never did 4.1sec—it always accelerated faster, so 3.8sec is a minimum, one suspects.

Top speed is, of course, pegged at 250kph. Unless you unpeg it via an option to 280kph. With the ‘RS Dynamic’ pack and ceramic brakes, it’ll hit a nice, round 290kph.

3) It’s got Launch Control.

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Obvs.

4) It’s got a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

The ’box has been calibrated to shift even quicker and features a “more robust” design to deal with the additional torque. The results, says Audi, are “lightning-fast starts and heart-pounding acceleration.”

5) It will actually drift.

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The new Audi RS3 has an actual drift mode, though of course, this being Audi, it’s called something entirely humorless: ‘RS Torque Rear.’

There’s a new ‘torque splitter,’ which features one “electronically controlled multiple-disc clutch on the respective driveshaft. So, when you’re going flat-out, the torque splitter gives more torque to the wheel with the most load, reducing understeer. If you’re going left, it’ll load up the rear-right. If you’re going right, it’ll load up the rear-left.

The fun begins when you select the ‘RS We Should Have Named It Something Catchier’ mode, whereby the torque splitter spits out all the torque to just one of the rear wheels, allowing for “controlled drifts.”

6) There are seven modes.

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Collect them all! The engine, gearbox, torque split, damping, and exhaust noise are all variable via the drive select modes, which run: Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, RS Individual, RS Performance, and the drift-happy RS Torque Rear.

Comfort priorities the front axle, Auto “neither understeers or oversteers,” Dynamic slings as much rearwards as possible, RS Individual allows...individual settings for each parameter, and RS Performance is designed for the track and to work with Trofeo R tires (and with as little understeer and oversteer as possible) for better lap times.

RS Torque Rear is the drifty one we told you about.

7) It’s lower and stiffer than before.

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Audi tells us this new tail-happy RS3 is 25mm lower than a regular A3, and 10mm lower than an S3. It gets RS 3-specific pivot bearings, stiffer lower wishbones, subframes and stabilizers, and one degree more negative camber than a standard A3.

The RS3 has always been a deeply fast, deeply serious car—the outgoing generation was the first to loosen its tie—is this the moment it wears that tie around its forehead and gets a proper sense of humor?

We’ll find out soon. In the meantime, have a scroll through these images.

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NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.

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PHOTO: Audi
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