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2018 Audi RS3 Sedan Spied: Small But Extremely Mighty

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Ever since we put the Audi RS3 Sportback through its paces early last year, we’ve eagerly awaited the arrival of the U.S.-bound sedan version of the car. While we’re still sitting on pins and needles, these latest spy photos show that development of the high-performance compact supersedan is well along. And our waiting won’t be for naught. The new sedan is expected to shed the RS3 Sportback’s current 367-hp iron-block turbocharged five-cylinder for the Audi TT RS’s all-new aluminum-block turbo five-banger, which produces 400 horsepower in the slick sports coupe and should help the RS3 sedan breeze from zero to 60 mph in something like four seconds flat (if not quicker).

Expect to see the RS3 sedan debut later this year and arrive on our shores in early 2017 as a 2018 model. Per the norm of Audi RS models (and per a leaked image of the RS3 sedan), the high-horsepower RS3 will sport aggressive bodywork to complement its overzealous performance.

Why It Matters: The compact-luxury-car segment is hot right now, and the RS3 sedan gives Audi a halo product above its A3 and S3. It also allows Audi to fully compete with the likes of the 375-hp Mercedes-AMG CLA45 and the 365-hp BMW M2, which may spawn a four-door M2 Gran Coupe in the future.

Platform: The RS3 sedan will ride on Volkswagen’s MQB platform that already underpins the A3 and S3, the TT line, and a number of other VW Group products. Quattro all-wheel drive will be standard, and we anticipate that the RS3 sedan will have slightly more balanced handling than the RS3 hatchback we drove, as the new engine’s aluminum block should mean less weight on the front wheels.

Powertrain: As noted above, we fully expect the RS3 sedan to be little more than a TT RS sedan. That means the four-door will offer approximately 400 horsepower from an all-new 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder with an aluminum block. In the TT RS, the engine produces 354 lb-ft of torque from 1700 to 5850 rpm; while that range may change slightly in the four-door, there’s no reason to suspect the RS3 sedan won’t possess a similarly fat torque band. Sadly, there’s no sign that a traditional manual transmission will be offered. Instead, plan on a quick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Like the current RS3 Sportback, the new sedan likely will be able to send up to 100 percent of its available torque to the car’s rear axle when the all-wheel-drive system’s computers deem it necessary. The RS3 sedan should be a ball of fun, even if it lacks a third pedal.