New Audi RS3 saloon spotted in Sweden

Booted variant joins the RS3 Sportback glimpsed late last year

A few months after first glimpsing the new Audi RS3 Sportback in testing, the saloon version has now been spotted during winter evaluation in Sweden.

Since that first prototype was spotted though, we now know what the standard version of the latest Audi A3 will look like, making it a little easier to piece together how both the Sportback and saloon versions of the upcoming RS3 may look.

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Obvious from the outset are a few key RS design elements giving this prototype’s identity away, such as the open honeycomb grilles and big wheel and tyre package. Typically the RS3 has always featured a wider front axle than standard A3s, and it’s something that we can see here too, although the crude wheelarch extensions will likely make way for a more prominent version of the flared arches seen on the production A3.

> New Audi A3 Sportback unveiled to rival 2020 Mercedes-Benz A-class

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It’s not just the front that has these RS elements applied though, as the rear bumper hides two oval exhaust outlets and a diffuser-style rear bumper section between, visible on both the Sportback and the saloon. Touches unique to the RS3 are difficult to make out however, with the prototypes looking not unlike the cooking A3 revealed in March. We’d expect a more aggressive front end treatment for production, echoing those of previous RS3 models.

What’s happening underneath the RS3’s skin is less certain, but Audi’s recently revealed RS Q3 might well serve as a preview for the new hot hatchback, as it shares its 394bhp in-line five turbocharged petrol engine with the current RS3 and TT RS models. As such, we expect the RS3 will utilise this same five-cylinder engine, but whether it’ll come with a power bump to usurp the recently revealed Mercedes-AMG A45 S and its class-leading 415bhp power figure remains to be seen.

Still, if there is something missing from the current RS3 it certainly isn’t performance, so instead we’re hoping that Audi will pay more attention to the somewhat flat and dull driving experience it has never quite shaken. Like the next-generation Golf, the new RS3 will be based on the heavily updated MQB platform, and although the basic technical layout will be largely the same as before, it will give engineers the chance to start over with a bigger toolkit to work from in engineering how the next RS3 will drive. While we’ll have to wait and see whether the RS3 will finally be able to cut it dynamically, the good news is we probably won’t have to wait too long.

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