Audi‘s all-new RS3 will be fitted with that must-have accessory for an all-wheel drive hot hatch in the 2020s: a drift mode. Although describing it so is clearly too vulgar for the VW Group subsidiary – instead, it’s called ‘RS Torque Rear’.
It works via the car’s RS Torque Splitter, which is also the work of some branding shenanigans. As confirmed via a digital press conference preceding this bumper technical info drop, the part is identical to the ‘R-Performance Torque Vectoring’ system found in the current VW Golf R. It does, however, get a bespoke software setup.
In terms of the oily bits for the system, you two multi-disc clutch packs, one for each of the rear driveshafts. They’re electronically controlled and able to fully vary the torque split between the wheels. If set to RS Torque rear, it can chuck up to 100 per cent of available torque to a single rear wheel, making for the kind of oversteering fun RS products from a few years ago can only dream about.
The Torque Splitter isn’t just there for the sake of opposite-lock entertainment, though. The ability to heavily bias a single rear wheel should be able to kill understeer almost completely, with Audi claiming the RS3 exhibits complete neutrality in its ‘Auto’ mode’. Switch to Dynamic or RS Performance, and the rear wheels are more heavily biased for a more agile, fun-feeling car.
Driving the RS Torque Splitter is a 2.5-litre inline-five with the classic, warble-tastic 1-2-4-5-3 firing order. Power remains unchanged at 395bhp, while the torque figure has gone up by a mere 15lb ft to give a new figure of 369. The reason? According to Audi, that’s plenty. It’s hard to argue with that when the 0-62mph has been slashed by three tenths relative to the old model, giving a new figure of 3.8 seconds.
That’s a tenth quicker than the Mercedes-AMG A45 S, making the new RS3 the fastest accelerating thing in the class. For ultimate bragging rights, the RS Dynamic Package can be specced, upping the 155mph electronically limited top speed to 180mph. Confusingly, there’s also a third top speed figure, since cars without that package can have the limiter upped to 174mph via a cost option. As before, all wheels are driven via a seven-speed ‘S Tronic’ dual-clutch automatic gearbox, although the RS3 gets a newer, slightly beefed up version of the transmission.
To go with the clever torque splitter, there are plenty of traditional chassis tweaks. For a kick-off, the RS3 sits 10mm lower than an S3 and 25mm than an A3. The stiffer lower front wishbones and subframes are bespoke, and there’s an extra degree of negative camber. The rear subframe and anti-roll bar also had to be redesigned to accommodate the torque splitter.
Hammering home the message that this isn’t a point-and-squirt performance car like the original RS3, you can even have Pirelli P Zero Trofeo Rs semi-slicks fitted from the factory if you’d like. No doubt we’ll get a very impressive Nurburgring lap from an RS3 wearing those boots.
We’ll get a proper look at the car minus camouflage next month, at which point Audi will confirm the car’s remaining technical details. On the latter front, though, there doesn’t seem to be much left to divulge.
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