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400-plus-hp compact sedan coming soon

A new generation of the Audi A3 was unveiled last year and like its predecessors the car will spawn performance variants. The S3 was revealed last August and an RS 3 is coming up soon.

A prototype for the new RS 3 has been spotted again, revealing many clues about the new performance compact sedan. Prototypes for the RS 3 Sportback hatch are also out testing, though we’re unlikely to see this model in the United States, just like with the outgoing generation.

The new A3 represents more of a major update of the outgoing generation than a true redesign, with both generations utilizing Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform. This will also be true for the new RS 3.

Expect the model to continue with a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-5, though we could see output exceed the current model’s 400 hp now that Mercedes-Benz AMG’s latest compacts are delivering as much as 416 hp. A dual-clutch transmission and rear-biased all-wheel-drive system should also form part of the package.

We know this prototype is for the RS 3 because of the enlarged intakes at the front, the flared wheel arches, massive wheel and tire combo, and the signature pair of oval exhausts at the rear.

We can’t see the interior in any of the shots but previous generations of the RS 3 point to body-hugging sport seats sitting up front and a flat-bottom steering wheel positioned in front of the driver.

2021 Audi A3 Sportback

We also know from the new A3 that there will be a digital instrument cluster, a large touchscreen for the infotainment system that can recognize letters entered by hand and responds to natural-speak instructions, and a color head-up display. A performance data recorder might also make it into the new RS 3.

The new A3 is scheduled to reach the U.S. in late 2021 as a 2022 model. The RS 3 should arrive about the same time, meaning we’ll likely see it also arrive as a 2022 model.

Potential rivals for the RS 3 include AMG’s new 45 series, as well as the BMW M2 and the CT4-V Blackwing from Cadillac.


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