Former S3 IMSA Car Becomes 550-HP RS 3 Pikes Peak Climber

Audi RS 3 Pikes Peak

Piloted by Robb Holland, RS 3 dubbed “The Sledgehammer” brings 550 horses to reclaim front-wheel drive record at Pikes Peak.

Audi is no stranger to Colorado’s Pikes Peak. After the end of Group B rallying in the mid-Eighties, the ur-Quattro and Sport Quattro both took on the 12.42-mile climb into the clouds, smashing records and scoring trophies along the way. Audi even sent up a TTS with autonomous technology in 2010 to prove such tech could make the climb up and down the famous course in the first place.

In more recent times, Robb Holland wields an Audi of his own for Pikes Peak, an RS 3 dubbed “The Sledgehammer.” Hoonigan AutoFocus‘s Larry Chen spent some time at this year’s gathering to learn more about Holland’s Audi, and all that goes into taking it up the mountain.

Audi RS 3 Pikes Peak

“It was an S3,” said Holland. “Full all-wheel drive; that’s how it ran in IMSA. Then, we converted it to front-wheel drive because we set the front-wheel drive record in the TT RS, the one that we won the 25 Hours of Thunderhill with. Brought it here, set the record. Then, two years later, Acura brought their full factory effort, and took the record from us by six seconds.”

The conversion to front-wheel drive also turned the now-RS 3 into an Unlimited-class car. Though it is outclassed by everyone else in said class, Holland’s main goal is to take back the record from Acura. In 2020, they fell three seconds short, due to the bumps.

Audi RS 3 Pikes Peak

“Right now, this is the two-liter motor,” said Holland. “We’d love to run the 2.5-liter […] But for right now, we’ve developed this as a 550-horsepower– it works. It’s designed to work at Pikes Peak. It’s designed to work at altitude.”

To put all the power to the ground, Pirelli Supersofts handle the task at hand. Since it’s already cool in the mornings, though, tire warmers bring them up to a piping hot 200 degrees. That said, the higher the elevation, the harder it is to keep the tires warm. Thus, the softer compound.

Audi RS 3 Pikes Peak

“The guys at Bluewater Performance, who built this car […] they wanted a car that was closer to their customer cars,” said Holland, “as opposed to some one-off prototype or whatever. It’s worked out really, really well. It just goes to show how far you can push a street car, and the level of performance you can get out of it.”

Images: Larry Chen (screenshots by author)

Click HERE to join the AudiWorld forums!

Cameron Aubernon

Cameron Aubernon’s path to automotive journalism began in the early New ’10s. Back then, a friend of hers thought she was an independent fashion blogger.

Aubernon wasn’t, so she became one, covering fashion in her own way for the next few years.

From there, she’s written for: Louisville.com/Louisville Magazine, Insider Louisville, The Voice-Tribune/The Voice, TOPS Louisville, Jeffersontown Magazine, Dispatches Europe, The Truth About Cars, Automotive News, Yahoo Autos, RideApart, Hagerty, and Street Trucks.

Aubernon also served as the editor-in-chief of a short-lived online society publication in Louisville, Kentucky, interned at the city’s NPR affiliate, WFPL-FM, and was the de facto publicist-in-residence for a communal art space near the University of Louisville.

Aubernon is a member of the International Motor Press Association, and the Washington Automotive Press Association.

2022 Audi RS 3 Snatches Nürburgring Class Record from Renault

2022 Audi RS 3

In the sport compact class, the red-hot 2022 Audi RS 3 is the new king of the Ring — and it wasn’t even close.

Given everything we’ve heard about the 2022 Audi RS 3, you didn’t have to be Nostradamus to predict it was going to be quick. Now, we know just how quick Ingolstadt’s new pocket rocket is. Because back in June, factory hot shoe Frank Stippler laid down a blistering time of 7:40.748 minutes, and smashed the compact car record. That beat the previous record — set by Renault using a Mégane R.S. Trophy-R — by nearly five seconds, so smashed is hardly hyperbole.

For safety reasons, the RS 3 in question was fitted with a roll cage and racing seats, which likely made it slightly heavier than bone stock versions. But aside from those concessions to the dangerous beast that’s the Green Hell, the car was stock, down to the Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R semi-slicks it was shod with for the lap. For track rats, they’ll be a must-have option, and according to Stippler, ensuring the proper pressures in the super-sticky rubber was key to the victory.

In the official press release, Technical Project Leader Marvin Schwätter didn’t specify exactly how tweaked the PSI was from the standard settings. For new owners headed to the circuit, that’d be a handy piece of info, so perhaps it’ll come out in the wash. Another key to the run was the trick torque splitter at the rear, which during corners, pipes twist to the outer wheels. This is the first time such a system has been employed on an Audi, and the distribution of power ensures both understeer and oversteer are kept in check.

According to Stippler, the multi-disc clutch system is “a quantum leap in terms of agile driving,” and given its success on the circuit, something we’re sure to see on future Audi models. Of course, other go-fast bits like adaptive dampers, ceramic brakes, and aggressive RS Performance modes were part of the package too, and help demonstrate just how potent the new RS 3 is when the gloves comes off. Watch the video below, and remember that buyers in the States aren’t left out of the fun. So stay tuned for info on when this record-beating sport compact will be available on our shores!

Photos: Audi

Click HERE to join the AudiWorld forums!

The New Audi RS3: Specs and Gallery

2022 Audi RS 3

The new Audi RS 3 has been revealed — and it’s a triple threat of power, style and practicality.

Ingolstadt just dropped all the information on the new Audi RS 3, so hang on to your pants, because this baby sounds like a total blast. Power comes from Audi’s award-winning 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder, which pumps out a whopping 394 horsepower and 368 lb-ft of torque. While the ponies are unchanged, the updated unit makes 14 more lb-ft of twist than the outgoing version, and full thrust is available earlier in the rev range, at 5,600 rpm.

Power is piped to the company’s famous quattro system through a wicked-quick seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which means the new RS 3 will make the sprint to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds. Keep your foot in the carpet, and standard models will pull all the way up to 155 mph. But there’s an optional package, which includes track-ready carbon ceramic brakes, which allows for an even higher maximum velocity. So if you need to hit 180 mph, make sure to check that box.

There’s also a trick new torque splitter in place of the old model’s rear differential, and in turns the fully variable system ensures that power goes to the wheel which needs it most. If you’re looking for some sideways fun, the new RS Torque Rear drive mode will allow drivers to pull off sweet drifts. The fastest lap times, however, will be achieved with the RS Performance mode, which is specifically calibrated to make use of all the grip the optional semi-slick tires will provide.

Of course, the greasy bits aren’t the only areas of the RS 3 that have gotten an update. Up front, there are new Matrix LED headlights, along with fender flares that are 1.3 inches wider. To feed more air to the engine, the intakes flaking the grille have been enlarged, and feature a cool honeycomb pattern. On the RS 3 sedan, which is the one that we’ll see here in the States, the roof will be painted Brilliant Black — which looks killer against the RS-specific Kyalami Green exterior finish.

Along the side of the car, there’s a now a vent behind the front wheel arch to help funnel heat away from the brakes, plus an RS-exclusive side rocker panel with a gloss-black inset. The wheels a five Y-spoke design, sized 265/30 in the front and 245/35 at the rear, and I think they look particularly sharp. Out back, a bumper with an integrated diffusor sits above the oval-shaped dual exhaust pipes, and a variable flap further back in the system means drivers will be treated to distinctly different sounds depending on which drive setting they choose.

Inside the cabin, a flat-bottom, Alcantara wheel with a 12 o’clock stripe communicates the sport potential of the RS 3 even before the ignition is turned on. That sexy tiller sits in front of Audi’s 12.3-inch virtual cockpit display, which includes readouts on factors like g-forces, lap times, acceleration from zero to 60 mph, and quarter-mile times. Along with black or red stitching, buyers now have a green option, which in my opinion is hottest one by a country mile.

At press time, no information on pricing is available. But European buyers will be able to order their new RS starting in late summer, and deliveries will start in the fall. No specific timetable for American customers has yet been announced. There’s sure to be loads more information about the new RS 3 released in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more pictures and video of Audi’s latest high-performance daily driver!

Photos: Audi

Click HERE to join the AudiWorld forums!

Audi Debuts RS Torque Splitter on 2022 RS 3 (& There’s Drift Mode!)

2022 Audi RS 3 Prototype

We still can’t show you the entire 2022 Audi RS 3, but know this: the third gen’s faster, more powerful, and a better driver’s car than ever before!

It’s been a few years since the RS 3’s last refresh, but the great news is that we are on the precipice of a third-generation RS 3 that once again features a turbo-charged 5-cylinder engine born out of Audi’s Rally Car heritage. And in that regard, I have good news and bad news. Unfortunately, Audi swore us to secrecy for another month until we can show you photos and videos of the new RS 3.

2022 Audi RS 3 prototype

All Audi RS 3 images are Euro-spec prototypes.

Fortunately, we CAN show you pictures of the 2022 Audi RS 3 porotype as well as share the exciting news about the 2022 RS 3’s driving dynamics, newly developed RS Torque Splitter, two RS 3-exclusive driving modes, and interesting power figure news. Also, if you’d like to read an interview with the engineer and driver to helped develop all of the technologies we’re discussing today, click HERE.

Let’s dive in!

2022 Audi RS 3 Power Figures & Performance

2022 Audi RS 3 prototype

Again, while we can’t share everything about the 2022 Audi RS 3, we do know a good deal about its power and performance capabilities. First, Audi is retaining the RS 3’s unique turbocharged five-cylinder engine with its 1-2-4-5-3 firing order. The bad news is that it’s not a major upgrade over previous generations, but there is a slight power bump. More specifically, Euro-spec models will see 400 PS and 500 Nm of torque. And here in the US, our SAE-rated power figure is 401 HP and around 369 lb.-ft. of torque.

For those keeping track, yes, that’s 20 Nm (14.75 lb-ft.) of torque than the previous generation with a wider 2,250 to 5,600 rpm powerband. Peak horsepower arrives at 5,600 to 7,000 rpm. And, yes, US-spec cars do have a little more horsepower than Eurospec cars, which almost makes up for the fact that we don’t get the sportback model here.

2022 Audi RS 3 prototype

These new peak power ratings and wider powerbands run through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission,  hustling. the new RS 3 to 100km (62mph) in 3.8-seconds. That’s 0.3 seconds faster than the previous gen. On the other end of the speed spectrum, Audi limits the RS 3’s top speed to 250 km/h (155 mph). But with the optional RS Dynamic package and ceramic brakes, top speed rises to 290 km/h (180 mph).

RS Torque Splitter

RS Torque Splitter

Despite building all the hype for the new RS, Audi seems more excited about their new RS Torque Splitter debuting in the 2022 RS 3. To oversimplify a lot of smart engineering, the RS Torque Splitter is a fully variable torque-vectoring rear differential that allows the RS 3’s sensors and computers to control the amount of torque each rear wheel receives.

As an example, if you’re roaring through a set of high-speed twisties, the RS Torque splitter will apply more torque to the rear outer wheel. But if you ran down a straight drag strip, torque would split evenly between both. Or place the RS 3 car in drift mode (more on this below), and the RS Torque Splitter will apply up to 1,750 Nm (2,014 lb.-ft.!) of torque to just one rear wheel.

2022 Audi RS 3 prototype

Basically, Audi describes the new RS Torque Splitter as being able to improve lap times, smoke shows, and even safety by reducing understeer and improving vehicle agility. And we can’t wait to drive one in person to test it out!

RS 3 Exclusive Driving Modes

2022 Audi RS 3 prototype

Many things separate the RS 3 from its A3 and S3 siblings. The engine. Visual elements. Optional Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires and carbon-ceramic brakes. But key to the 2022 model is two new driving modes the RS Torque Splitter makes possible: RS Performance and RS Torque Rear.

The 2022 RS 3 boasts seven driving modes, actually. comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency, as well as RS Individual, RS Performance und RS Torque Rear. As you would expect, each mode tailors throttle response, suspension (if equipped with the optional adaptive suspension), steering feel, and several other factors to give each driver the exact feeling they want. 

RS Torque Splitter

RS Performance mode is the RS 3’s racetrack mode. Where previous RS 3s were prone to understeer, RS Performance mode provides absolute neutrality around high-speed corners. No understeer. No oversteer. Just pick your line, attack it, and accelerate earlier than ever before.

RS Torque Rear is the RS 3’s drift mode. And Audi PR folks were adamant that this mode ONLY be used in secure off-street locations. And Mexico. Because, as describe above, in RS Torque Rear, the RS Torque Splitter sends tons of power to one rear wheel. Which means oversteer on demand whenever you want it. #SmokeEmIfYouGotEm #WeNeedABiggerTireBudget

2022 Audi RS 3 prototype

Sorry, America, no Sportback for you!

And that’s about all we can share now, folks. Stay tuned for fuller 2022 RS 3 details in about a month!

Photos: Audi

What do YOU think of the 2022 RS 3 so far?
Let us know HERE in the AudiWorld forums!

INTERVIEW: Audi Test Driver Dubs RS Torque Splitter ‘A Quantum Leap for Agile Driving’

RS Torque Splitter

Audi’s new RS Torque Splitter “gives the car lots of variations in combination with the driving modes and that elevates the driving dynamic to a higher level.”

We’re still a month or so out from seeing and learning every new detail about the 2022 Audi RS 3. But, while we wait, Audi was generous to brief AudiWorld about the turbocharged RS 3’s core new technologies — the RS Splitter and drive modes. You can read the full details HERE. But the quick version is that this new torque splitter changes the driving characteristics on demand, allow the RS 3 to drift or attack road courses without any sense of under or oversteer.

For this post, we wanted to share an interview with Audi racing and development driver Frank Stippler as well as Audi chassis engineer, Meic Diessner. In preparing for the third RS 3 generation, Audi engineers conducted two 8,000 km (~4,971 miles) test runs on the North Loop of the Nürburgring, using a combination of driver feedback and test data to tune the new system.

2022 Audi RS 3 prototype

Mr. Diessner, Mr. Stippler, what was the process for you to work together on the development and tuning of the RS torque splitter?

Meic Diessner: Frank is incredibly important to us in this process. He has a lot of experience, especially on the Nürburgring. That makes feedback from him decisive for the tuning and especially for the torque splitter. I’m there on site for the tests and I also drive myself as part of the three-week continual run. I equip the vehicle with measuring technology and compare the data with the feedback we get from Frank so that we can make changes if needed.

Frank Stippler: In addition to my experience and my ability to drive cars fast, my training as an automobile mechanic and my degree in mechanical engineering also help, of course. This allows me to make sense of the feedback from the car immediately so I can pass it on to Meic. At the same time, he understands what I mean when I’m talking about the feedback the car is giving me on the track.

2022 Audi RS 3 prototype

What’s more important: the measurement data or the feedback from the development driver?

Meic Diessner: The data and the impressions from Frank are used equally in tuning the torque splitter. The feedback from a racing driver is very important because he is at the upper limits out on the racetrack. The measurement technology helps me to change certain parameters based on Frank’s descriptions. The one does not work without the other.

2022 Audi RS 3 prototype

What does the torque splitter feel like in the RS 3 prototype? And why was it put in?

Frank Stippler: In general, the car is much more agile in its driving from the middle of the curve to the end and also when accelerating out of the curve. All-wheel drive cars have great tracking stability, but they tend to understeer at the very upper limits. We were looking for a solution that would minimize that behavior. The torque splitter distributes more weight onto the rear axle. With it, the car develops a driving dynamic that oversteers. And that’s where the Audi drive select system comes in, which helps meter that tendency based on use, road conditions and individual preferences. We can get really fast in RS Performance mode, the mode for circuit driving that is designed especially for semi-slick tires. For me, the RS torque splitter is a quantum leap in terms of agile driving.

RS Torque Splitter

How exactly did Frank Stippler’s findings flow into the tuning?

Meic Diessner: That is of course mostly during the two continual runs of 8,000 kilometers each on the Nürburgring. These extended test runs play an important role during development in practicability – and thus also the serial roll-out of the torque splitter.

Which parameters can still be changed during these tests?

Meic Diessner: In general, the software gets more and more complex during development. This has to be adapted for the available driving modes – from auto to RS Torque Rear, which allows controlled drifting on closed circuits. In practice, that means Frank drives, gives us feedback. We adjust and take turns driving – until it’s just right.

2022 Audi RS 3 prototype

When is it determined to have reached series-production readiness?

Frank Stippler: You develop a sense for that over time. I bring in my opinion, because I’m at the absolute upper limit with the car and have an idea of what customers want from this car. When Meic and I are on the same page after test drives, then that reinforces an overall picture that we have made of the characteristics of the torque splitter. And that has to be consistent for everyone involved in the development. The North Loop testing grounds are especially important in this process. The RS 3 prototype covers a broad spectrum that appeals to sporty drivers. Customers who don’t drive on the racetrack or only do so seldomly are also taken into consideration.

2022 Audi RS 3 prototype

How intelligent is the torque splitter?

Meic Diessner: It recognizes, for example, if the road is wet or dry. So the driver doesn’t have to change the mode. That means that the car automatically reacts differently in RS Performance mode it the road is wet than it would when it is dry. The driver also benefits from the variability of the
RS torque splitter all the way to the top speed. So they always have quattro drive when it is needed.

Why is it important in the vehicle tuning not just to be fast?

Frank Stippler: Because we want to understand how the hardware and electronics work together in any possible driving situation. In short, to have an eye on the overall technical image of the vehicle. It’s not about me or about tuning the car to be as fast as possible on the racetrack. To live up to the wishes of customers in terms of dynamics and driving comfort, it probably helps that I don’t just drive fast in a loop, but that I can also classify technical correlations.

RS Torque Splitter

What can Audi fans look forward to?

Frank Stippler: A car that covers a broad spectrum: comfortable in city driving and top speeds on the racetrack. A car that is one-of-a-kind in its class and makes hearts beat a little faster.

Meic Diessner: We’re talking about a well-made car with a five-cylinder motor and a great sound that will certainly give you goosebumps. On top of that, a sporty, balanced chassis with the torque splitter, which gives the car lots of variations in combination with the driving modes and that elevates the driving dynamic to a higher level.

2022 Audi RS 3 prototype

Stay tuned for more 2022 Audi RS 3 news and more right here at AudiWorld! And don’t forget to —

Click HERE to join the AudiWorld forums!