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New Audi RS3 drifts into town. Image by Audi.

New Audi RS3 drifts into town
Audi is done teasing and has finally revealed its new RS3 with 400hp and a drift mode
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What's all this about?

This is the latest generation of the Audi RS3, available in saloon and Sportback hatch-and-a-half version. It's the entry-level RS model but it's numbers are anything but entry-level with a 0-62mph time of 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 180mph with the optional dynamic pack. Its design is more, how should we put it, fussy than before, although some will see it as edgy, sporty, dynamic. Edgy is certainly the thing Audi appears to be going for though because not only does the new RS3 get 400hp from its award-winning 2.5-litre turbo motor, it gets a drift mode too, because anything the BMW M2 can do, Audi wants to do too.

Does it have lots of cool stuff to match the performance?

Oh yes, not least of all that drift mode which is possible due to the new RS Torque Splitter. It uses an electronically controlled multiple disc clutch on each of the rear driveshafts instead of the last generation's rear differential and multiple disc clutch package. The system can shift more power to the rear wheel bearing the highest load during hard cornering but it also allows for up to 1,750Nm of torque to be pushed to one rear wheel in RS Torque Rear mode, or drift mode. Audi is quick to add a disclaimer that it is to be used on "closed-off tracks" because doing it on a public road would be dumb and most likely get you into someone's YouTube compilation video of dumb things. That last bit isn't officially in Audi's disclaimer.

There's also an RS Performance mode which is said to reduce both understeer and oversteer as well as providing special mapping for the engine and gearbox to give you the sportiest drive possible. You can choose the optional RS sport suspension with adaptive damper control and everything can be synchronised via a new modular vehicle dynamics controller (mVDC) - bet you can't wait to tell you friends you have mVDC.

We're not sure if this is cool or not, but the Carbon, Launch Edition and Vorsprung models will have LED daytime running lights that can change their shape to portray things like the RS3 lettering or a chequered flag depending on the situation.

What's it like inside?

The interior is dominated by RS sports seats, which are available with Nappa leather as an option. Carbon models get a carbon fibre instrument panel and all have the 12.3-inch Audi Virtual Cockpit Plus. You can have your speed and revs displayed as bar charts horizontally or vertically and scroll through displays for g-forces, acceleration and times for laps, quarter-mile and eighth of a mile. A shift indicator can tell you when the optimum time to shift up or down is when in manual mode using the paddles. In case you're wondering, no, there's no manual version.

Two steering wheels are available, a normal round one that can detect your hands on the wheel to use with driver assistance functions, or a flat-bottomed one that presumably doesn't. Both have the RS Mode selector dial to switch between driving modes.

When is it coming and how much will it cost?

Order books open in August and first deliveries will begin towards the end of the year. Pricing starts at 50,900 for the saloon and 51,900 for the Sportback. Audi UK hasn't yet released the full pricing, so we can't tell you how much you'll pay if you want the Carbon, Launch Edition of Vorsprung models as well as the cost for the many options owners will undoubtedly want to tick boxes for.

Are we excited about the new RS3? Oh yeah. We aren't sold on the looks and while it might seem a bit gamer, a bit Nissan GT-R, that 2.5-litre five-pot has always been superb and we're quite sure you can turn off many of the really cheesy functions.

Mark Smyth - 22 Jul 2021

2021 Audi RS3. Image by Audi.2021 Audi RS3. Image by Audi.2021 Audi RS3. Image by Audi.2021 Audi RS3. Image by Audi.2021 Audi RS3. Image by Audi.

2021 Audi RS3. Image by Audi.2021 Audi RS3. Image by Audi.2021 Audi RS3. Image by Audi.2021 Audi RS3. Image by Audi.    - Audi road tests
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