Audi's next-generation RS 3 Sportback has been snapped while testing in Europe, ahead of an anticipated release in either late 2014 or early 2015.
Pumped guards, wave-pattern front brake rotors with six-piston calipers, an aggressive front mask and a pair of oval tailpipes are all RS hallmarks, and key points of difference with the S3 Sportback and sedan.
What we can't see, though, is the engine.
The logical choice would be for Audi to follow the template set by the previous-gen RS 3 Sportback (which never came to Australia), and shoehorn the 2.5 litre turbo inline five from the TT RS and RS Q3 under its bonnet.
The uprated 2.5 from the TT RS Plus may even be a contender, and with 265kW and 465Nm it would provide plenty of muscle for the next RS 3.
However, when Audi's TT Quattro Sport Concept flaunted a 309kW/450Nm 2.0 litre inline four at Geneva last month, rumours spread that Audi's iconic inline five may not be long for this world.
If it replaces the 2.5 in the next-gen TT RS, we could safely assume the same will happen with the RS 3.
But whether powered by five cylinders or four, we can definitely bank on the new RS 3 having killer performance.
The old RS 3 was able to shoot from 0-100km/h in just 4.6 seconds, and it did so with just 250kW of power. Expect the new one to be even quicker.
Coincidentally, 4.6 seconds is the same sprint time as the 265kW Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG, which will be the RS 3's chief rival when the latter arrives in showrooms around the end of the year.
A sedan version of the RS 3 is also expected to arrive later in 2015.
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