Audi's latest RS 3 hasn't landed in showrooms yet, but it has already started winning medals. It set a new record on the challenging Nürburgring Nordschleife track in Germany by shaving about five seconds from the previous record.
Powered by a sonorous 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine, the 2022 RS 3 lapped the Green Hell in 7:40.748, which is a new record in the compact class. The definition of a compact car is sometimes opaque, so Nürburgring officials rely on the official categories defined by the German Federal Motor Transport Authority. For context, the RS 3 snatched the crown from the front-wheel-drive Renault Mégane R.S. Trophy-R, which set a time of 7:45.39 in April 2019.
Audi Sport racing and development driver Frank Stippler set the record in a lightly camouflaged RS 3 Sedan. No major modifications were made before the pocket rocket was let loose on the track. It was fitted with the optional semi-slick Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires, and the pressure in each wheel was adjusted to suit the track conditions.
While the turbocharged five-cylinder makes 401 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, Stippler credited the torque-vectoring rear differential (which the new RS 3 inaugurates) and the RS Sport Suspension Plus system for helping him lap the 'Ring in 7.40:74. It didn't hurt that the sedan takes 3.8 seconds to reach 60 mph from a stop.
Carmakers from all over the automotive spectrum test new models on the 'Ring, but few manage to make headlines by setting a record. As of writing, the quickest production car is the Porsche 911 GT2 RS, which lapped the track in 6:43.30 in June 2021. It beat the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series by approximately four seconds. Cross-town rivals Porsche and Mercedes-Benz also duked it out in the executive sedan category: the AMG GT 63 S knocked the Panamera Turbo S off the podium in 2020. The super-sedans posted times of 7:27.80 and 7:29.81, respectively.
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