Handling and performance reach greater heights in the new Audi RS 3 models.
The new Audi RS 3 models are set to significantly raise the bar in terms of driving dynamics with a revised performance package that includes new rear torque vectoring technology.
22 June, 2021
Top speed can optionally be dialled up to 290km/h with the RS Dynamic package
Although the international unveiling of the new Audi RS 3 models is still a month away, Audi has given a preview of the outstanding performance offering that aficionados can look forward to with the two compact RS models.
Sharper, more engaging handling and a greater helping of power and torque are at the very heart of the RS 3 Sportback and RS 3 Sedan, both of which have long enjoyed their position as giant killers in the performance stakes. The multi-award winning 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine, mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, has been further refined to deliver even greater punch in the form of 294kW of power and 500Nm of torque (20Nm up on the previous model). Maximum torque is now available from lower in the rev range and for a greater duration, kicking in from 5600 to 7000rpm and the resultant 0 to 100km/h figure of 3.8 seconds is 0.3 seconds faster than before.
Top speed is again electronically governed to 250km/h, but the RS 3s will also have the option of having that increased to 280km/h or with what’s called the RS Dynamic package and ceramic brakes, stretched a further 10km/h to 290km/h – making the RS 3 models ‘best in class’ for acceleration and top speed.
But while this is all good news for ardent fans of the RS 3 Sportback and Sedan, an even more exciting development is the active rear-axle torque vectoring which will significantly dial up the driving dynamics and bring an even greater level of agility to RS 3 models.
The RS Torque Splitter works by allowing active, fully variable torque vectoring between the rear wheels, using an electronically controlled multiple disc clutch on each of the drive shafts. When the car is pushed during hard driving, the torque splitter increases the drive to the outer rear wheel that has the higher load, which significantly reduces the tendency to understeer.
Hook into a righthand bend for example and the torque is transferred to the left rear wheel, and vice-versa in lefthand bends to the right rear wheel. When the car is going straight ahead, both rear wheels receive equal torque. The result is greater stability and manoeuvrability particularly at speed, but the system also allows the driver to direct all of the engine power to just one of the rear wheels – up to a maximum of 1750Nm when the conditions allow – think race track or closed roads. The exact distribution of drive torque always depends on the mode selected in Audi drive select and the respective driving situation.
Due to the difference in drive forces, the car is more planted turning into the curve and follows the steering angle more precisely, which means less understeer and earlier and faster acceleration out of the corners – and particularly precise and agile handling. The torque splitter also compensates for oversteer by directing the torque to the wheel on the inside of the curve or, if necessary, to both wheels.
The system also allows the driver to direct all of the engine power to just one of the rear wheels – up to a maximum of 1750Nm when the conditions allow
As in other Audi RS models, the driving dynamics and settings are directly controlled via the Audi drive select
Then there is the modular vehicle dynamics controller (mVDC) which synchronises the torque splitter’s two control units, adaptive dampers, and the wheel-selective torque control for high-precision steering and handling.
As in other Audi RS models, the driving dynamics and settings are directly controlled via the Audi drive select which, in the new RS 3 models, offers seven modes – comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency, as well as RS Individual, RS Performance and RS Torque Rear. Depending on the selected mode, the characteristics of various powertrain and chassis components change from an emphasis on say, comfort, to highly dynamic and even to settings which have been optimised for track work.
In Auto mode for example, torque distribution is balanced, which means that the RS 3 neither understeers nor oversteers. Put it in Dynamic mode on the other hand, and it transmits as much torque as possible to the rear axle. This is taken to perfection in RS Torque Rear mode, which allows drivers to perform controlled drifts on closed roads. The rear-heavy distribution of the engine power leads to oversteering, with up to 100 percent of the drive torque directed to the rear and ending up at the wheel on the outside of the curve. In addition, Audi has adjusted the engine and transmission characteristics. This specific setup is also used by RS Performance Mode, which is designed for the racetrack and is specially tuned for use with Pirelli P Zero ‘Trofeo R’ performance semi-slick tyres, which are optionally available factory-mounted for the first time.
In this mode, the torque splitter delivers a dynamic, sporty ride along the longitudinal axis with as little understeer and oversteer as possible. This results in fast acceleration out of corners which of course leads to better lap times.
The electronic stabilisation control (ESC) in the RS 3 has also been tailored to the torque splitter and performance package to make it faster and more precise than before and it can also be switched off completely if required.
The standard RS sports suspension has also been upgraded to match the new performance, with newly developed dampers and valve system both specific to the RS 3. This sees the RS 3 models sit 10mm lower than the Audi S3 and a full 25mm lower than the standard A3 models, contributing to the car’s low centre of gravity.
RS sport suspension plus with adaptive damper control is available as an option, continuously adjusting each damper to the road conditions, the driving situation, and the mode selected in Audi drive select. Add to the equation RS-specific progressive steering and you have an impressive performance package that is better, faster and more agile than ever before – and that’s no small feat given the performance prowess of the previous Audi RS 3 models.
Both the RS 3 Sportback and RS 3 Sedan have enjoyed tremendous popularity with those looking for that combination of genuine sports performance from a luxury car that can be driven every day. Add to that the keen pricing for a vehicle of such pedigree and it’s not hard to see why the RS 3 models have developed such a strong and loyal following.
These significant new handling and performance refinements will be welcomed by a customer genuinely invested in making the most of every driving opportunity, particularly those with a love of track work.
Indeed the new RS 3 package is impressive across the board, but the full reveal will have to wait for another couple of weeks.
The RS 3 models sit 10mm lower than the Audi S3 and a full 25mm lower than the standard A3 models, contributing to the car’s low centre of gravity
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