As if the launch of the new RS3 sedan weren’t enticing enough as it is, Audi also came to Paris this year with an even more aggressive-looking racing version.
Not unlike the BMW’s M235i Racing, the RS3 LMS is the new point of entry into Audi Sport’s racing lineup. It slots in below the R8 LMS the company offers to GT3 racing teams, not to mention the RS5 DTM and R18 E-tron Quattro prototype it fields through its own factory racing programs.
It’s based on the new road-going sedan, but is clearly tuned for the track with more aggressive bodywork, dropped down to the tarmac and festooned with wings. Where the street model packs plenty of luxury accoutrements, the racing model’s cockpit is stripped out and fitted with a single PS3 racing bucket, roll cage, safety nets, and rescue hatch.
In place of the 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-five, the racing model is powered by a competition-spec 2.0-liter turbo four rated at 330 horsepower. That’s less than the road-going version’s, so it’s a little slower off the line. The run up to 62 miles per hour takes 4.5 seconds, and top speed peaks at just under 150 mph. But what it lacks in straight-line speed it’s sure to make up for around the circuit with added grip and higher cornering speed.
The junior member is designed to comply with the regulations of the burgeoning TCR class, which encompasses not only its own international racing series, but has also been expanding into other series around the world looking to add an affordable new category. That means the potential for big business at Audi Sport, which is evidently learning a thing or two from sister company Porsche – particularly now that former Lamborghini chief Stephan Winkelmann is calling the shots.
Want to pick up one of your own? Audi Sport will sell you a club sport version for 99,000 euros (before taxes), or the full-on TCR-spec model for 129,000.