An Audi RS3 sedan appears set to launch by 2016, giving the Ingolstadt marque a ready-made rival for the Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG.
The three-box beast will combine with brutal mechanicals of the RS3 Sportback hatch with the A3 sedan body-style. Don’t forget, Audi previewed the new RS3 model with the sedan-based A3 Clubsport concept (pictured above) earlier last year.
We bumped into the chief of Audi’s quattro GmbH division, Heinz Hollerweger, at the 2015 Geneva motor show today, who said the company was working on the car, but also seemed to hint that we may not see it this year.
Hollerweger also explained the rationale for a sedan version, if it wasn’t clear from a simple desirability perspective.
“You have seen one, you have seen it,” Hollerweger said, alluding to the Clubsport. Expect the production version to tone down that concept’s styling slightly, in line with the Sportback.
“I think you have to look at different markets, Europe is really a Sportback market, in the US the sedan is bigger… you will have different markets,” he said, adding the China was also crucial, being a market that also favours sedans.
Pictured: Audi RS3 Sportback
Speculation suggests the staggered launch is a good way to keep the flagship sports car variant of the A3 range fresh in the public eye, by doling out different body-styles over the lifespan of the car.
Naturally, given the roaring success of Audi’s S and RS divisions in Australia at present (along with its rivals AMG and BMW’s M Division, we should add), an RS3 sedan would seem a sharp fit locally when it becomes available.
As we know, the RS3 Sportback hatch launches in Australia late in 2015, powered by a muscular 2.5-litre TFSI five-cylinder turbo that shades both the AMG 45 and M135i, with outputs of 270kW and 465Nm of torque (the latter available between 1625-5550rpm).
This engine is a reworked version of the one used in the previous 250kW/450Nm RS3, plus the previous TT RS and current RS Q3 models, the latter of which has 228kW and 420Nm. Rumour had it that Audi was set to downsize to a four-cylinder RS3, but instead it has stuck to the tried and true.
Given its MQB architecture, a weight loss of 55kg (to 1520kg unladen) is expected. The engine sends power to all four wheels via Audi’s variable quattro system that can send between 50 and 100 per cent of available torque to the rear axle.
Controlling the power is a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch auto with paddleshifters. It has an electronically controlled but hydraulically activated multi-plate clutch that weighs 1.4kg less than its predecessor.