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12-18-14 - Audi RS3 Sportback is the hottest hatch

Fans of compact, European vehicles that mix luxury and performance should be in paradise right now. There's already the 320-horsepower M235i from BMW and the 355-hp CLA45 AMG (or A45 elsewhere) from Mercedes-Benz, but you can now add one more to the list. Meet the Audi RS3 Sportback, which boasts 362 hp and five doors, too.

With propulsion coming from Audi's turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder that makes 343 pound-feet of torque (465 newton-meters), the RS3 Sportback can scramble to 62 miles per hour in 4.3 seconds. Top speed is limited to 155 mph, but buyers can opt to raise that top end to 174 if desired. The inline-five is mated to a seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch gearbox, sending power to the ground via Quattro all-wheel drive with torque vectoring, which can send between 50 and 100 percent of the power to the rear wheels as needed.

To cope with the boosted output, the suspension has been lowered by an inch compared to the standard A3 Sportback, and magnetic dampers are a further option. Buyers can also tick the box for carbon-fiber-ceramic brake rotors at the front. The RS3 goes on a diet its latest iteration, too, weighing 121 pounds less than its predecessor.

While buyers get potent power, Audi keeps the looks understated. The exterior wears a front airdam with larger openings and some aluminum flourishes, and a diffuser at the back gets some more matte trim. A roof spoiler and aluminum look for the mirror housings add a few other touches to catch the eye. Inside, all versions get sport seats covered in Nappa leather and a flat-bottom steering wheel wrapped in leather and Alcantara. But for the really sporty look, buyers can spec optional RS buckets with a carbon shell that weigh 15 pounds less than the standard units.

European deliveries of the RS3 Sportback begin in the summer. Autoblog reached out to Audi spokesperson Mark Dahncke who told us there are currently "no plans to bring it to the US." Scroll down to read Audi's full announcement of this five-door hot hatch.

By Chris Bruce

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