The next generation Audi RS3 has been caught on camera in production bodywork wearing little disguise while testing at Germany’s Nurburgring race circuit – ahead of its local showroom arrival in late 2021 or early 2022.
The spy photos show the successor to one of the world’s fastest hot hatches – which currently has a 0 to 100kmh time of about four seconds – has retained the same formula that has made the current model so successful.
The next Audi RS3 hot hatch gets wider fenders front and rear – as with today’s model – to accommodate a wider track and a bigger footprint than the standard car.
Although Audi is yet to confirm engine details, under the bonnet is a revamped version of the current 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo that shares some of its DNA with the previous Lamborghini 5.0-litre V10 and breathes through two large oval exhaust pipes as per today’s car.
Power output is yet to be revealed but overseas reports claim the next RS3 will get an increase from today’s model and continue to be matched exclusively to a twin-clutch automatic gearbox and all-wheel-drive.
In other good news for hot hatch fans, in the meantime the current generation Audi RS3 sedan and hatch are just weeks away from returning to Australian showrooms.
The current generation Audi RS3 sedan and hatch (pictured below) stopped production in late 2018 as the company had to revalidate the engine – on this and numerous other models – to meet more stringent fuel economy testing standards in Europe.
In anticipation of the interruption to production, Audi Australia stockpiled as many RS3 sedans and hatches as possible in late 2018, however its allocation of cars sold out in the first half of 2019.
That means Audi Australia has been without the RS3 sedan and hatch – and other models that required retesting – for the better part of 12 months.
Its absence has put a dent in Audi sales as the high performance RS versions account for about 25 per cent – or one in four – A3 models sold locally.
Production of the current generation Audi RS3 sedan and hatch recommenced in Europe in February and the first shipment of cars is due in Australian showrooms in May.
The reborn, current generation Audi RS3 will continue to be sold in Australia until late 2021 or early 2022, when the next generation Audi RS3 is due to arrive.
Prices for the reborn current generation RS3 are yet to be announced and it is expected there is no change to the engine’s power output (294kW/480Nm) or previous chassis tune.
The only change is under the bonnet and is said to not impact performance.
The updated version of the current generation Audi RS3 sedan and hatch (known internally as the MY20, for “model year 2020”) will come with a petrol particulate filter (PPF).
It will be the first Audi sold in Australia with a petrol particulate filter.
It will be joined about the same time – in the month of May – by the Skoda Superb Scout and the Skoda Karoq 140TSI, which also have petrol particulate filters.
The arrival of these PPF-equipped models – which reduce emissions but require the highest quality 98 octane premium unleaded – will likely reignite debate about Australian fuel quality standards.
Concerned that some customers could put a lower grade than 98 octane unleaded petrol in their car, the Australian automotive industry has been lobbying for better fuel standards in Australia.
At the moment, premium unleaded fuel sold in Australia is allowed to have up to 50 parts per million of sulphur, however in Europe the standard is 10 parts per million of sulphur.
The Australian petroleum industry says premium unleaded sold here routinely falls way below the 50ppm threshold for sulphur content and independent testing has shown the premium unleaded pumped at the bowser has between 30 and 40ppm of sulphur.
Skoda is so concerned about incorrect fuel going into its cars, it will introduce point-of-sale material warning customers about the importance of using 98 octane premium unleaded.
Lower quality fuel could damage the PPF and the replacement parts and labour are said to cost close to $2000.
Peugeot was the first to introduce a vehicle with a PPF in Australia, with the 308 GT that went on sale here in August 2019.