Expect Audi New Zealand boss Dean Sheed to highlight a technical triumph for the brand when the new RS3 sedan arrives in New Zealand next year.
It’s a development of a Haldex differential that uses multiple disc clutches on each rear axle shaft to distribute the amount of torque sent to each wheel.
It helped the 2022 RS3 set a compact car lap record at Germany’s Nurburgring circuit in June. Audi test driver Frank Stippler described the innovation as a “quantum leap in terms of agile driving.”
The RS3 is the first Audi to use it. “The splitter is the key tech in the RS3 – that and 400bhp (298kW),” said Sheed. Audi claims the new car can sprint from 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds.
The multi-disc set-up replaces the limited-slip differential in the previous RS3 model. It directs more torque to the outer rear wheel during dynamic driving, for improved traction and better turn-in and acceleration in and out of corners.
It also enables Audi to add a new RS Torque Rear mode that allows the RS3 to drift. The RS3 also has RS Performance, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, and RS Individual modes, plus a new Efficiency mode.
The modes change the behavior of the torque splitter, engine and transmission, steering assistance, adaptive dampers, and exhaust flaps. The stability control also has standard, sport, and off modes.
Stippler drove the camouflaged all-wheel-drive RS3 around the Nurburgring in a time of 7min 40.748sec, just under five seconds quicker than the previous mark set by a front-drive Renault Megane RS Trophy-R in 2019.
Audi adjusted tyre pressures on the semi-slick Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R units to suit the track conditions, as well as adding a roll cage and bucket seats with racing harnesses.
The camouflage wrap sported by the RS3 hyper sedan featured the 1-2-4-5-3 firing order of its 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged engine, uprated to deliver 298kW/500Nm to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Said Stippler (above) of the record run: “We don’t have unlimited opportunities to try for a record like this. That’s why a little is always necessary on the day when it matters – particularly with respect to tyre pressure because that also affects how the torque splitter functions.
“In general, the new RS3 is much more agile when driving from the middle of the curve to its end and when accelerating out of the curve. For me, the torque splitter is a quantum leap in terms of agile driving.”
Sheed is aiming for launch date in New Zealand around February/March, “subject to production and shipping.”