As good as Audi's TT-RS is, the small coupe just isn't practical as a daily driver for most people. A hot hatch would be better for hauling people and their associated cargo, but at the moment, Audi only offers its A3 and S3 with turbocharged four-cylinders. A higher spec RS 3 has been long desired by enthusiasts and has only been a fantasy -- until now.
Beginning in early 2011, Audi will start shipping the RS 3 Sportback, a faster, more developed version of the luxurious hatchback that shares its architecture with the Volkswagen Golf. While the A3 and S3 are both powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged direct injection four-cylinder, the S3 having a slightly larger turbo and intercooler, the RS 3 will get the same 2.5-liter turbocharged direct-injection five-cylinder found in the TT-RS. The five-cylinder will not only provide the appropriate rally-car roar, but roughly 340-horspower and 332 pound-feet of torque. The RS3 will pull off 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds according to Audi, and in accordance with the infamous "gentleman's agreement," the car will be electronically limited to 155 mph.
As is to be expected from any high-performance Audi, the RS 3 is only available with quattro all-wheel drive and also in accordance with tradition lately, will only be available with the automaker's electronically actuated DSG transmission. The RS 3 will get the new 7-speed version of Audi's S tronic, which uses a rather tall seventh gear to deliver higher levels of efficiency at motorway speeds. With the low-end of torque of the turbo five-cylinder, passing still should be a non-issue.