Audi RS3 Sportback (2015)Audi has revealed the new 367hp RS3 Sportback hot hatch will boast a 174mph top speed – but only if buyers tick the right option box.

The new four-wheel drive hot hatch will come with a limited 155mph top speed out of the box; buyers can “on request” choose to have this limiter raised to 174mph. And do note, even that is a limited top speed!

An enhanced version of the old RS3’s five-cylinder turbo engine provides the firepower. At 367hp, it’s the most powerful five-cylinder in Audi RS history – yes, more potent than even the most extreme Quattros of the 1980s.

The new car will scrabble to 62mph from rest in just 4.3 seconds. That’s 0.3 seconds faster than the old RS3 and, amazingly, faster than a manual version of the new Porsche 911 Carrera GTS!

Thank a lighter kerbweight (it’s 55kg less than before), faster-shifting seven-speed S tronic gearbox and a more efficient quattro system for all this, says Audi.

This helps economy too: 34.8mpg and 188g/km CO2 are not bad going, given the performance on offer.

RS3: a super hot hatch

The Audi RS3 Sportback doesn’t hide its potency: with bulging (and bespoke) front wings, chunky side sills and the trademark matt aluminium door mirrors, it’s considerably more focused than the regular S3.

The front bumper has an RS-style honeycomb grille with silver ‘quattro’ graphic and, at the rear, there’s a high-gloss black diffuser, more honeycomb and two large oval tail pipes.

Audi RS3 Sportback (2015)

If all that’s not enough, buyers can choose 19-inch matt titanium or machine-polished anthracite black alloys and, brilliantly, a carbon engine cover.

Nappa leather sports seats are standard, with lightweight RS bucket seats optional. The interior is packed with RS detailing and there’s an enhanced driver information system that shows boost pressure, oil temperature and lap times.

Audi sticks with five

It was speculated that Audi would move to a highly tuned four-cylinder engine for the new RS3, so sticking with the charismatic engine will be welcomed by enthusiasts.

Bosses say it’s all part of Audi’s history. “There is a long tradition of five-cylinder engines at Audi,” said board member and technical boss Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg.

“In the 80s, they turned Audi into a sport brand, both in motor sports and in production.”

The engine noise is celebrated within the cabin as Audi’s added two flaps in the exhaust to control the sound, which the driver can alter from Audi drive select.

For the first time, Audi even offers a sports exhaust upgrade to something even more bass-heavy – something it’s never previously done for an Audi model in this sector.

Other high performance options include carbon ceramic brakes with 370mm discs (and identifying anthracite grey calipers) and Audi magnetic ride adaptive dampers.

The new Audi RS3 Sportback will be open for ordering from March 2015 (prices should be available by then too), with deliveries due in the summer.