The Sportback version now packs a turbocharged 2.5-liter TFSI inline-five engine good for 400 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque — the most powerful production five-cylinder, according to Audi (though there can’t be too many left) — with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission sending all those horses to all four wheels. The upgraded powertrain represents a gain of 38 hp and 11 lb-ft of torque over the outgoing version, which debuted just three years ago, so the Sportback will now be able to make sprints from 0-62 mph in just 4.1 seconds, on up to an electronically limited 155 mph.
Along with the RS3 sedan, the Sportback is meant to be an RS-range gateway drug serving up a revised suspension, a wider track and 19-inch wheels in addition to all those horses. The RS3 Sportback offers several driving modes, with options that include carbon-ceramic brakes, sport seats and adjustable dampers.
The RS3 sedan, at least, will make it stateside this summer.
The exterior updates applied to the A3 range have found their way to the RS3 as well, which now features revised headlights and taillights in addition to updated front and rear fascias.
“Since 2011, the sporty compact model has proved itself extremely successful on the market,” said Stephan Winkelmann, CEO of Audi Sport. “And with the new five-cylinder engine, the Audi RS3 Sportback is at the head of its class and continuing that strong track record.”
That market does not include the U.S., where Audi will instead offer the RS3 sedan, reportedly on sale this summer. The rationale is similar to Mercedes-Benz’s decision to keep the A45 AMG hatch back home: American buyers are expected to go for the jacked-up GLA-Class crossover and its Audi Q3 rival. But we still have the Golf R, so that’s something.