These days, nothing escapes the internet any more. I’m sure you’ve seen the plethora of leaks, sometimes even years before the actual scheduled launch. That is why carmakers are now trying to take control of the narrative, coming out with all sorts of different methods to outrun the spy photographers – by publishing their own “leaks”, or cameo appearances in totally unrelated scenarios.
In Audi’s case, the German carmaker has taken to its annual sustainability report to “leak” the upcoming RS3 hot hatchback and sedan. Well, we say “leak”, but it’s more akin to a preview, since it’s plastered right front and centre in the report’s headline photo.
Both the RS3 hatchback and sedan shown here are wrapped in promotional camouflage, but looks to be pretty much production-ready, judging by the lack of any paddings (to hide details) or blacked-out window tints.
As expected, the upcoming Audi RS3 turns the visual aggression knob one notch higher than the already warm S3. You don’t need to look any further from just the front to know that it’s all serious business, thanks to the enlarged air intakes and even wider wheel arches (with new cooling vents behind the front wheels).
At the back, the bumpers also get a more aggressive design featuring a full-width trim piece and more aggressive diffuser element, and of course, housing the signature oval-shaped dual exhaust tips. A new set of larger (19-inch, we’re guessing) Y-spoke alloy wheels fills the arches, hiding the Audi Sport-branded performance brakes.
The “leak” did not mention any mechanical specifications of the upcoming RS3, but the ‘1-2-4-5-3’ branding on the side of both cars is a clear reference to the cylinder firing order of Audi’s unique 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine, the same one used in the outgoing RS3, thus all but confirming the engine in the new model.
The same engine is also used in the Audi RS Q3 and TT RS, which in all three instances, make 400 hp and 480 Nm of torque, and paired to a seven-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch transmission. There are no indications if we’ll see a power bump on the RS3, but even with the same output figure, the RS3 is already pretty much at the top of the hot hatch performance leaderboard, second only to the all-new Mercedes-AMG A 45 S.
While the carmaker basically makes no mention of the Audi RS3 throughout the entire press release, they did speak on the future of the Audi Sport and RS brand; it’s a sustainability report after all. Most notably, Audi Sport Managing Director Sebastian Grams confirmed that future RS models will adopt electrified powertrains moving forwards, in ther form of high-performance PHEVs and EVs.
Audi Sport’s sales and marketing boss, Rolf Michl, added: “We expect to offer more than half of our high-performance models in partially or fully electrified form as early as 2024. And by 2026, this figure will likely even be as high as 80 percent.
“By the end of the decade, we plan to only offer electrified models in the high-performance segment – in other words all-electric vehicles and high-performance plug-in hybrids.”
In other words, the upcoming Audi RS3 might well be the last of the non-electrified Audi performance model, featuring the brand’s inline-five engine. So for those “purists” (or the more stubborn bunch), you know what to do.