Audi's Sporty Wagon Just Got More Insane

Business Insider recently had the opportunity to spend a weekend behind the wheel of Audi’s S3 sedan. It was absolutely fantastic. And we certainly didn’t think the 292 horsepower S3 needed more power.

But Audi had different ideas. They went ahead and crammed 362 horsepower into the new RS3 Sportback.

Instead of using the S3’s world-class 2.0 turbocharged 4-cylinder powerplant, Audi decided to raid the Volkswagen Group’s arsenal of engines for a 2.5 liter turbocharged 5-cylinder unit.

Boy is this thing impressive! An esteemed panel of automotive journalists named it the 2014 International Engine of The Year  or its size category. 

In recent years, Audi has moved away from 5-cylinder engines. Instead, it has focused its attention on 4-, 6-, 8- and even 12-cylinder powerplants. Bakc in the 1980s, however, the 5-cylinder was Audi’s performance calling card. Those turbocharged engines, along with the “quattro” all-wheel-drive system, were at the hearts of its championship rally cars.

“There is a long tradition of 5-cylinder engines at Audi,” said Audi board member Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg in a statement. “In the ’80s, they turned Audi into a sporty brand, both in motor sports and in production.”

“The new Audi RS 3 Sportback features the latest generation of our 2.5 litre, five-cylinder engine — the most powerful production engine in the modular transverse matrix,” Hackenberg added.

With the 362 horsepower on tap, the RS3 sportback is capable of making the sprint to 62 mph in just 4.3 seconds. Top speed is limited at 155 mph. But drivers with access to the autobahn can request to have that top speed raised to 174 mph. 

The RS3 Sportback is built on VW Group’s new MQB platform, which also underpins for the company’s highly praised but more plebeian Mark 7 Golf.  Having spent time behind the wheel of its S3 sibling, I can attest to the quality, sure footedness, and precision of the Audi’s ride and handling. Thanks to Audi’s quattro AWD, optional ceramic brakes, and a host of driver’s assistance tech, the RS3 won’t let you get in too far over your head.

The RS3 shares the same cabin design as its less potent A3 and S3 siblings. This is a very nice place to spend time. Audi makes some of the best-designed and assembled cockpits in the business. This one manages to standout even when compared to Audi’s other offerings. The Audi “3” family cabins feature soft leather and carbon fibre accents. The pop up infotainment screen is top notch and features Google Maps. 

The Audi RS3 Sportback is set to make its UK debut in March. Sadly there is no word yet on whether Audi plans on bringing it to the U.S. in the near future.

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