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2021 Audi RS 3: price, release date, performance, specs and options

Russell Campbell

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Russell Campbell

2021 Audi RS3 hatchback and saloon
  • 2021 Audi RS 3 revealed
  • 400PS, 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds
  • Price from £50,900
  • On sale mid-August

Audi has revealed three specification packs for the 2021 Audi RS 3 called Carbon Black, Launch Edition and Vorsprung.

The RS Dynamic pack, meanwhile, adds tasty go faster bits that should make the most dynamic RS 3 seen yet even more focussed to drive. 

The news comes as Audi confirms that the new RS 3 is the fastest car of its size around the famous Nurburgring in Germany – the Audi's 7 minute 40.7 second time pipping the previous record (set by the Renault Megane RS Trophy) by 4.6 seconds. The RS 3's record was set with development driver Frank Stipple behind the wheel of a car equipped with adaptive suspension, ceramic brakes and semi-slick tyres, which sadly are not available in the UK. 

2021 Audi RS 3 saloon front three quarter
Kyalami Green is one of two exclusive RS 3 colours, the other being Kemora Grey

2021 Audi RS 3 price and release date

We already knew the 2021 RS 3 would cost from £50,900 for the hatchback and £51,900 for the saloon and that you can order the cars now with deliveries expected in November, but now Audi has put some more meat on the bone by revealing the packages you can specify on top of that price. 

The basic car comes with kit including 19-inch wheels, heated front seats and a digital dashboard, but spend another £4650 (hiking the price up to £55,550) and you can have the Carbon Black package. It includes kit such as matt black wheels, darkened LED headlights, as well as giving you wing mirrors and side skirts finished in carbon fibre, plus a lower bumper in gloss black.

Next up is the Launch Edition pack, which costs an additional £6000 over standard and, if you get one, will be one of just 96 examples coming to the UK. In typical Launch Edition tradition, it gets almost all the kit you could want including adaptive suspension, ceramic brakes, the sports exhaust, 174mph top speed (up from 155) and the Driver Assistance Pack. You also get the panoramic glass roof. It's most easily spotted by its red brake callipers and glossy exterior and interior highlights.

The Vorpsrung version is what the Launch Edition used to be, so an RS 3 with almost every conceivable option and a £7750 price increase over the basic car. It uses Launch Edition as a base, adding unique wheels, a 360-degree camera and an electrically opening and closing boot. 

All RS 3 models are also available with the RS Dynamic Pack which, for up to £5500, adds the ceramic brakes, sports exhaust, adaptive suspension and raises the speed limit to a hot hatch, top-trumps triumphing 180mph.

2021 Audi RS 3 front
You're unlikely to mistake the muscly RS 3 for a standard Audi A3

2021 Audi RS 3 styling

The 2021 Audi RS 3 is not the subtle performance machine it used to be. Up front, it's angular bumper gives it the don't-mess-with-me appearance of a seasoned NHL enforcer. Huge angular vents (assuming their real) should plenty of air to the car's brakes and radiators and the bulky bumper helps accommodate the car's blistered wheel arches.

They're need because the new RS 3 sport a wider track than the car it replaces. The distance between the left and right-hand wheels has increased by 33mm at the front and 10mm at the back and the flared arches bookend aggressive side skirts. There's plenty more to feast your eyes on in profile, like the ground-scraping ride height which means the new car sits 25mm lower than the standard A3 and 10mm lower than the S3's. 

Large 19-inch alloy wheels are standard fit and their needed to slot over the car's beefy six-pot front brake callipers. They bite down onto 375mm discs, while at the back you get 310mm items. The new brakes dissipate heat 20% more efficiently than those on the old RS 3. Not enough brake force for you? Worry not, you can pay extra for 380mm ceramic discs that will be the ones to go for if you intend on tracking your RS 3.

Audi RS 3 hatchback rear
Those breathers behind the front wheels are new for this version of the RS 3

The back end picks up the aggression where the rest of the car lets off. There's a large bumper with what looks like fake vents and a diffuser-style lower section that houses a pair of exhausts that wouldn't look out of place on a solid-state rocket.

We can't say the RS 3 will rival a NASA launch for drama, but if you swap the standard LED headlights for the upgraded Matrix LED versions, it will at least perform a neat light dance when you lock and unlock the car – the corner of the driver's headlights spelling out R, S, 3 in stages before both lights display a chequered flag for a fulsome sporty flavour.

Aside from a wrap emblazoned with '1-2-4-5-3' (the firing order of the car's five-cylinder engine, obviously), Audi hasn't made much of an attempt to disguise the appearance of the 2021 Audi RS 3.

As a result of all this, Audi's smallest RS model looks no less dramatic than its larger sibblings, namely the RS4 and RS6. 

Audi RS 3 interior
The 2021 Audi RS 3's interior serves up a familiar dish of sporting quality

2021 Audi RS 3 interior and infotainment

If you're looking for a hot hatch (or indeed saloon) with a classy interior but find the Mercedes-AMG A45 S' is a little too glitzy for your tastes, then the RS 3 could be the car for you.

Inside, you get an RS-branded flat-bottomed sports steering wheel and sports seats and you can option things like carbon fibre trim pieces and a 12 o'clock marker on the steering wheel. 

Infotainment is carried over from the standard car, so you get a 12.3-inch digital instrument binnacle and 10.1 inch centre display

Audi RS 3 saloon rear
You'll pay a £1000 premium for the saloon's sleeker profile

2021 Audi RS 3 performance, specs and RS Torque Splitter

The 2021 Audi RS 3 gets the same engine as the old model – a turbocharged five-cylinder that produce 400PS and 500Nm of torque (20Nm more than previously) from 2250rpm. 

That's enough to get the RS 3 from 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds – quicker than the A45 S (3.9 seconds) and the BMW M2 Competition (4.2 seconds) – and onto a top speed of up to 180mph.  Well, it can do that, actually the car is limited to 155mph, which is lifted to 174mph in Launch Edition and Vorsprung models. For the full 180 you'll need to specify your car with the RS Dynamic Package and the optional ceramic brakes. 

Even the standard brakes are meaty, with six-piston front callipers biting down on 375mm discs at the front, while you get single-piston callipers and 310mm discs at the back. The brakes are 20% more efficient at cooling than the ones fitted to the old car?

Not enough? Then you can have ceramic brakes with 380mm front discs. They resist fade even better than the standard system and also make a 10kg weight saving.

In the past, the RS 3's quattro four-wheel drive has given it plentiful grip whatever the weather, but not allowed for playfulness under power like you get from the new Mercedes-AMG A45 S, which has a drift mode, and the BMW M2 Competition, which has plenty of power to overawe its driven rear wheels.

That changes for the new car with get's Audi's RS Torque Splitter, which we're told is "a quantom leap for agile driving".

So what is it? Basically, it's two clutches – one on each rear drive shaft – that mean the RS 3 can send up to 100% of the engine's torque to the wheel that has the most grip when cornering, taking pressure off the front tyres to reduce understeer and allow the back end to break traction into the bargain. 

It means you can have all the benefits of four-wheel drive – neutral handling, all-weather stability, absolute traction – or press some buttons and turn your RS 3 into a car that wants to do big, arching skids. 

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