The new Audi A3 Clubsport Quattro Concept takes small sedans to a place the segment has never been before.
The new Audi S3-based super sedan produces a phenomenal 386kW of power and 600Nm of torque from its 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged engine, with all of that grunt sent to all four 21-inch wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic automatic. The engine has seen significant modifications, including a larger turbocharger with up to 1.5 bar of boost pressure, and a new intercooler.
Audi claims the car - which features a new launch control system with controlled wheel-spin allowance - can sprint from 0-100km/h in just 3.6 seconds, faster than the RS6 Avant and RS7 Sportback (both 3.9sec) but not quite as quick as the recently revealed Audi R8 LMX (3.4sec). Its top speed is 310km/h.
Stopping that much propulsion requires assistance, with carbon-ceramic discs all-around (370 millimetres in diameter at the front) - but the company has also fitted the car with an air brake system similar to that seen on the Bugatti Veyron and McLaren P1. The air brake, which is electronically actuated and hidden in the boot lid, raises "to nearly vertical in the blink of an eye", with the company claiming it can reduce stopping distance by 12 metres at 250km/h.
The car weighs 1527 kilograms, or just 77kg more than the standard S3 sedan. It features a carbonfibre-reinforced polymer bonnet and carbonfibre side sills, while some suspension components have been constructed out of aluminium to reduce unsprung weight. The car has been lowered by 10mm compared to the S3, and it adopts coilover suspension that Audi claims can be "perfectly adapted to the task at hand, be it on the road or the race track".
Other underbody changes include a new specifically designed, hydraulically activated multi-plate clutch on the rear axle and a torque vectoring system that can brake the inside wheels individually to improve cornering response. Audi claims the system "provides maximum control and reliability for drifts".
Design-wise, the Audi A3 Clubsport Quattro Concept is coated with 'Magnetic Blue" paint, and bears an enormous grille finished in matte aluminium. The large 'quattro' badge and air-splitter brings it in line with its supercar siblings, while its LED headlights are set into its broadened front arches. The rear arches feature similar 'blisters', while the back-end has a broad bumper with a three-finned diffuser.
Inside there are four seats, with front racing buckets coated in carbonfibre-reinforced plastic. The instrument dials feature black faces, and there's a shift light for when the engine hits 6900rpm. The remainder of the interior is covered in lashings of black, including a black Alcantara head-lining.
Audi board member for technical development, Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, said the new concept brings "extreme power and dynamics in compact format", and gave a hint that a high-performance model may be in the works - but we wouldn't expect any RS3 variant to offer that much punch.
“The Audi A3 Clubsport Quattro concept shows our car and tuning fans at the Wörthersee just how much sporty potential there is in the A3 family and in our top-of-the-line engines such as the 2.5 TFSI,”
“We have pushed the limits in every respect with this show car: power, dynamics, sound, design.”
The concept car will debut at the 2014 Wörthersee show - an annual Volkswagen Group event in Austria - from May 28.