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    RS3 SALOON 395bhp 5-pot, 0-62 in 4.1sec, 174mph powerhouse! Words Davy Lewis / Photography Audi AG

    It’s the one we’ve all been waiting for – the brand new RS3 saloon…

    NEW RS3 SALOON It’s here at last!

    The RS3 saloon is one of the most eagerly anticipated new cars from Audi. Not since the RS6 C6 has Audi offered a Renn Sport with a boot, and we think this one is long overdue. Given that sportbacks and estates are far more practical, you may expect there to be less of a demand for a saloon. But my Facebook feed has been full of renderings and eager discussion about this car for months, and now that it’s here, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve said it before, but performance Audi enthusiasts love a fast RS saloon.

    So, aside from the boot, what makes the RS3 saloon so different to the already well-received RS3 sportback? Well plenty, as it goes, starting with the new engine.

    It uses the same, revised five-cylinder engine fitted to the latest TT RS, which means it’s lighter, more efficient, and, of course, more powerful than the current RS3 sportback. Peak figures are 400hp (396bhp) and 480Nm, which should make for impressive performance. It should also deliver a sensational soundtrack that evokes emotions of Audis of old (add own Group B analogy).

    Audi claims the 0-62mph dash will take 4.1secs, which let’s be honest, is plenty quick. Not quite so headline grabbing as the TT RS perhaps (the Coupe takes just 3.7secs), but this is a larger, heavier car. And what’s four-tenths of a second between friends? I also suspect that this figure is a tad under optimistic, so as not to tread on the toes of the TT RS. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the RS3 saloon hits 62mph in under 4secs.

    Like the TT RS, the RS3 saloon can be de-limited to allow a top speed of 174mph, so its performance credentials are impeccable. So what about the rest?

    Well, it certainly hits the spot from an aesthetic perspective. Arguably the best angle is the front – the new angular headlights and grille look very striking, but it’s the new RS bumper with deep air intakes, which really makes an impact. Certainly in RS-specific Catalunya red, with black accents to the intakes, it looks terrific.

    The RS3 saloon runs a slightly wider (20mm) track than the regular S3, so the wheel arches have been subtly extended to accommodate this. It’s not the kind of blistered arch that fans of the B5 and B7 RS4 would applaud, and personally speaking I’d have liked a slightly more pronounced arch, but until I see the car in the metal, I’ll reserve final judgement.

    One thing that’s clearly very ‘RS’ is the rear end. The deep diffuser, which houses the trademark twin-oval tailpipes says RS very loudly. Which is fitting, as it’s sure to make a fantastic noise, courtesy of that fiery five-cylinder engine. The boot features a neat little lip spoiler and like a lady who’s been hitting the squat rack, it’s toned, muscular and guaranteed to draw many admiring glances.

    The outside is finished off with a set of 19in alloy wheels, which I suspect some will love, others not so much. They’re another of the angular spoked, diamond-cut family of wheels that Audi is rolling out (see what I did there?) with each new RS model. Now wheels are always going to be a very subjective thing, but these certainly suit the lines of this super-saloon. The five-spoke pattern is perfect for showing off the brakes, which also bear the RS legend. And, like its TT RS sibling, the RS3 saloon will be available to order with Audi’s stunningly effective, carbon ceramic brakes, as an optional extra.

    Inside, is as you would expect, extremely well appointed. The cabin architecture really is second to none and you’d be hard pushed to find better. The industry leading virtual cockpit (standard kit on the TT RS) is available as an option here, but you do get some nicely sculpted sports seats emblazoned with the RS logo. Some more aggressive super sports seats are optional. One thing the RS does without is the TT RS’ steering wheel. So you don’t get the satellite controls for the Dynamic drive settings or the engine start stop button, but it’s still a very nice, tactile wheel.

    The RS3 will also feature the latest in Audi connectivity, allowing drivers access intuitive and highly advanced functions such as Google Earth, Street View and much more, via the LTE module. The RS3 saloon is going to be a natural competitor to the M3 and AMG CLA45. On paper, it stacks up well against some this impressive opposition. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel and see just how good this super-saloon really is. But if it’s anything like the new TT RS, Audi will have a another huge hit on their hands.

    SPECIFICATION #Audi-RS3-Saloon / #Audi-RS3 / #Audi-A3 / #Audi / #Audi-RS3-Typ-8V / #Audi-A3-Typ-8V / #Audi-A3-8V / #Audi-RS3-Saloon-Typ-8V

    Engine 2.5 #TFSI 5-cylinder, Audi Valve Lift System, dual injection, aluminium crankcase, plasma coated cylinder barrels and main bearings, weighs 26kg less than previous model

    Drivetrain/Transmission New 7-speed #S-tronic dual clutch with revised driveline, gearshift and launch control, permanent quattro drive integrated into Audi Drive Select, redesigned and lightened multi-plate clutch located at rear axle for better weight distribution

    Power 400hp (396bhp) and 480Nm

    Performance 0-62mph 4.1secs, top speed 174mph (delimited)
    Price From £48,000 UK (estimate)
    On sale Early 2017 (estimate)

    RS3 saloon looks great in Catalunya red with gloss black details.
    Left: Cabin is a work of art Above: Optional virtual cockpit features RS mode Below: Diamond stitching is very neat.
    “the 0-62mph dash will take 4.1secs”
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