Optimistic proponents of the Audi RS3 have been speculating on a stateside arrival as far back as 2012, and as all but confirmed recently by Audi of America CEO, Scott Keogh, it appears they were right all along.
To clarify, Audi haven’t gone on record stating their intent to bring the formerly European-market-only RS3 to the US, but most of the major American automotive media outlets believe Keogh’s words to Automotive News declare the deed done.
Keogh told Automotive News, “We really, really want the RS3. [The RS3 is] going to be a great positioning car, a great halo car. I’m very confident we’ll see that car in the market. That’s as far as I’m going to go.”
It seems Keogh is just as high up on the RS3, what is currently the performance flagship for vehicles based on Volkswagen’s ubiquitous MQB-platform (Audi A3, Audi TT, VW Golf, VW Passat, VW Tiguan), as the passionate but too long RS3-less US fans of Audi’s super hot hatch.
The RS3 is the modern iteration of Audi’s legendary five-cylinder Quattro rally cars. It’s powered by a turbocharged 2.5L inline five-cylinder engine, which produces 367hp and 343lb-ft., the latter available from a very friendly 1,625rpm. Car and Driver report an especially pleasing low frequency noise emitted by the RS3’s inline-five — harking back to Audi’s rally cars from the 80s — due to its 1-2-4-5-3 firing order. Hand-built with an iron block and assembled in a place called Györ, it sounds stout enough.
If we do get the same drivetrain as the one currently fitted to the European RS3 Sportback, the engine will transfer power through a seven-speed “wet” dual-clutch automatic and then to the tarmac with, of course, Audi’s Quattro AWD system. The RS3 Sportback can do 0-60 in 4.3s and tops out at 155mph, or 174mph if equipped with the option package that removes the speed limiter.
There are a few downsides to this joyful news, depending on how you look at it. Currently, there is no manual gearbox offered, and there is little chance that one would be introduced in the US, where even fewer consumers are interested in rowing their own gears. Additionally, fans of the hatchback form-factor will be severely disappointed, as the RS3 is almost assured to arrive only as a sedan in the US — blame the impressive Audi A3 sales numbers ever since they switched from hatch to sedan.
When will we see it? Car and Driver predict the RS3 will go on sale in America late this year or sometime next year as a 2016 or 2017 model. At current exchange rates (£ to $) the RS3 Sportback’s price is $58,524 — the MSRP for the RS3 when in arrives in the USA could be in that neighborhood.