Audi used the 2016 Paris Motor Show to debut not only its new RS 3 sports sedan, but also a racing version of the car called the RS 3 LMS. The little sedan is set to hit the track next year.
The development of the RS 3 LMS stems from Audi’s push to make sales of race cars a part of its business, alongside road cars. Like the current R8 LMS, the RS 3 LMS is intended to be sold in relatively large volumes to customer teams, rather than being raced solely by an Audi-backed factory team. The R8 LMS, incidentally, just won Audi a manufacturer’s championship in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar series’ GT Daytona class.
But the R8 is a bona fide supercar, while the RS 3 is a souped-up version of the humble A3 sedan. Consequently, there’s a more dramatic difference from the stock version after Audi Sport is done converting these four-doors into race cars. With its bulging fender flares, massive rear spoiler, and hunkered-down stance, the RS 3 LMS certainly looks aggressive.
Instead of the 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine used in the road-going RS 3, the LMS uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder in order to comply with regulations for the series Audi plans to run it in. Regulations also mean the race car is down on power compared to the road car. The LMS produces 330 horsepower, while the RS 3 with the five-cylinder engine is good for 400 hp.
The LMS will do 0 to 62 mpg in 4.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 149 mph, compared to 4.1 seconds and an electronically limited 155 mph (optionally 174 mph) for the stock RS 3. The race car does have some important options the road car lacks, though, including a racing fuel cell, roll cage, racing seat with harness, and an escape hatch in the roof.
Audi plans to launch the RS 3 LMS in the European TCR International series, a cost-controlled series that features other small cars like the Honda Civic and Volkswagen GTI. A U.S. launch will depend on whether Audi decides to sell the RS 3 road car here. European prices start at 99,000 euros (about $111,000) for a “club sport” version, and 129,000 euros (about $145,000) for the full TCR-ready version.