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Can Audi's 400-hp RS 3 Sedan give the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 a run for its money?

Audi’s RS 3 Sportback has been a forbidden fruit since the first generation model was introduced in Germany in 2011. That’s allegedly set to change soon, as an anonymous Audi of America employee has revealed the Volkswagen-owned car maker is preparing to sell the RS 3 in the United States for the first time ever.

There’s a small catch: the RS 3 that we’ll get on our shores will be a hot-rodded version of the A3 Sedan, not of the A3 hatchback like the Euro-spec model (pictured). It will be aimed squarely at the coupe-like Mercedes-AMG CLA 45, and it will boast a turbocharged 2.5-liter, five-cylinder engine tweaked by Audi’s go-fast quattro division to generate at least 400 horsepower. A seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission with shift paddles (called S-tronic in Audi-speak) will be the only unit offered, and it goes without saying that all-wheel drive will come standard.

The RS 3 will look a little different than the A3/S3 currently found in showrooms because it will be based on the facelifted model that hasn’t been unveiled yet. It’s expected to receive a minor nip and tuck that will make it look virtually identical to the bigger A4 by adding a sharper rendition of Audi’s ubiquitous singleframe grille and more angular headlights. Beyond the front end, the RS 3 will stand out from the standard A3/S3 siblings with wide alloy wheels tucked under flared fenders, side skirts, a custom rear bumper with a large air diffuser, and a small trunk-mounted spoiler.

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Enthusiast website Quattro World speculates the Audi RS 3 Sedan will go on sale late next year as a 2018 model, meaning Audi fans have plenty of time to save up. They’ll need to, because its base price will allegedly lie between $55,000 and $60,000, a figure that, if accurate, would make it between $5,000 and $10,000 more expensive than Mercedes-AMG’s CLA 45. Audi hasn’t commented on the rumor, so we’ll have to wait until the facelifted A3/S3 are introduced later this year to find out more about what the future holds for the RS 3.