Audi’s RennSport mob have juiced up the Audi RS3 Sportback for 2017, transplanting the all-new, all-alloy 2.5-litre inline five from the TT RS into the RS3 hatch.
With 294kW of power now surging from its flywheel, the new RS3 snatches back the title of “Most Powerful Hot Hatch” back from its arch-rival, the 280kW Mercedes-AMG A45.
Torque jumps up too, rising from the outgoing model’s 465Nm peak to 480Nm. All up, the gains tally 24kW and 15Nm, meanwhile the zero-to-hundred figure drops to a blistering 4.1 seconds with the 2018 RS3 Sportback shaving two tenths off its sprint time.
One other crucial number drops as well – weight. With the RS3’s new engine ditching the old iron-block architecture of the outgoing motor, the total weight of the powerplant falls by 26kg. Shedding that much mass from the nose of a vehicle should improve its cornering performance, so expect less understeer from Audi’s refreshed RS3.
Power continues to go to the ground via a seven-speed dual clutch transmission and Audi’s quattro AWD. Fuel consumption on the European combined cycle comes increases marginally to 8.3L/100km.
Other changes are mostly cosmetic, in line with updates applied to the rest of the A3/S3 range late last year. The RS3’s nose features the saw-toothed headlamp housings of those models, coupled with a restyled front bumper and silver-ringed air dam with bold ‘quattro’ script on the lower bezel.
At the rear, changes are limited to new tail lamp graphics and lower bumper contouring.
Inside, the biggest update comes in the form of Audi’s flash Virtual Cockpit instrument panel, which now features a dedicated RS ‘page’ that enlarges the tachometer, shifts it to the centre of the display, and flanks it with performance readouts for g-force, boost, tyre pressure, plus integrated shift lights.
Recontoured front seats, infotainment upgrades, smartphone mirroring, autonomous emergency braking and the addition of rear cross traffic alert round out the rest of the 2018 RS3 Sportback update.
Scheduled to make its global debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March, the new Audi RS3 Sportback will go on sale in Europe in April before arriving here around the end of the third quarter this year.