The next-generation Audi RS3 is confirmed for production and will retain its 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine.
Speaking at the launch of the S3 Cabriolet, and asked whether a new Audi RS3 is coming, the company’s head of convertible development Mario Weiland replied: “I think so, I think the decision has been made.”
“The last one was so successful I think we had to do it,” he added.
The position was echoed by the chief designer of Audi S and RS models Frank Gruner.
“The RS3 was a big success, we sold a lot more than we ever thought we would,” he said.
However, despite Audi showing off a near-production-ready, Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG-beating 309kW version of its 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine at the Geneva motor show last month, Gruner denied the existing 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine – which is fitted to the existing TT RS and the newly introduced RS Q3 – would be ditched for the new four.
“I think people would miss the sound of the five-cylinder,” he said. “In Germany and perhaps Australia the sound is as important as the power.”
Perhaps taking a shot at the Mercedes-Benz AMG engine of the same cylinder count, Gruner said: “Four-cylinder with a sporty exhaust is not the same. In Europe the five-cylinder was two or three years engine of the year. It was really a big success.
“Within Audi [five-cylinder] it is a big tradition. Audi friends on the outside, they want the five-cylinder.”
The previous-generation Audi RS3 was available in left-hand-drive only and its 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder produced 250kW of power and 450Nm of torque – 15kW shy of the benchmark A45 AMG 2.0-litre.
With CarAdvice photographers having snapped Audi RS3 mules in testing late in 2013 – with S3 badging but with much bigger brakes – the new model is likely to debut at September’s Paris motor show, alongside the new Audi Q7 large SUV. Although the last RS3 was introduced eight years after that generation of A3 Sportback was unveiled, Gruner has confirmed a late introduction for the next RS3 won’t happen again.
“Maybe we won’t leave it till the end of the model cycle like last time,” he said.