New Audi RS 3 Keeps the Maniacal Five-Cylinder, Does Sweet AWD Drifts

That sound, that damned sound...


Audi is teasing its all-new RS 3 supercompact by showing off a pair of camouflaged prototypes. Judging from the photography and the "1-2-4-5-3" emblazoned wrap, it doesn't look like the next RS 3 will introduce anything too radical when it comes to styling and engine choice. It'll look like a more aggressive version of the recently revealed A3 (which doesn't look all that different from the previous-gen A3) and continue to use the company's awesome turbo five-cylinder engine

What Audi says is worth paying attention to, however, is a new RS Torque Splitter that's said to provide a "quantum leap in terms of agile driving" and has made the new RS 3 "the epitome of unadulterated driving dynamics." That latter quote feels like a bit of an oversell to me (Will GT Porsches no longer exist when this car comes out?) but PRs gonna PR, I guess.


At its core, the RS 3's new rear-axle-mounted torque splitter provides fully variable active rear-axle torque vectoring that, of course, is said to result in better handling. It's able to tell when it's operating on a wet surface and will send more torque to the outside wheel when cornering in order to curb understeer. Put the RS 3 into its new RS Torque Rear driving mode (read: drift mode) and the unit will heavily bias the rear axle and even funnel all of the car's torque to just the outside rear to initiate sweet, sweet powerslides. 

On the flip side, the system will give the inside wheel some power if it senses unwanted oversteer. For example, it'll engage if you're chasing lap times under the car's new RS Performance Mode that's been specifically tailored for both trackwork and this car's Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R semi-slick tires. 

Admittedly, this sort of sounds like the same torque vectoring stuff we've already seen and experienced in countless other performance cars, except Audi says, with this one, "the torque splitter uses one electronically controlled multiple disc clutch each on the respective drive shaft" whereas previous systems used a "multiple disc clutch package on the rear axle." In any case, the new Audi RS 3's RS Torque Splitter definitely sounds like one of those things that's better experienced rather than explained so we can't wait to get our hands on it as soon as possible.


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