It may not be immediately obvious, but what you are looking at here is believed to be an early test mule of the next-generation all-new RS 3 Sportback. Likely this is about the time you point out to us that the car in question is a current-generation RS 3 Sportback. Yes, that’s true. But it’s also not.
At this stage in the game, it’s not like we haven’t seen next-generation A3 and S3 test mules. We most certainly have, covered with disguises and cladding but clearly hinting at the expected significant changes that come with an all-new generational shift in a model’s lifecycle. This RS 3, in comparison, is decidedly the same as the current car.
Even still, there are some key things to take note of on this RS 3. For starters, the registration tags are HN (meaning Heilbronn, a.k.a. Neckarsulm, a.k.a. the home town of Audi Sport GmbH). The car was also spied on the Nürburgring during a manufacturer test day also, so this isn’t just another Heilbronner out for a few fun laps.
So yes, it’s got the current bodywork… well… mostly. Outwardly this looks like the current car, except for the tack-on fender flares. The RS 3 is already the widest A3 variant, and so those tack on flares can only mean that this test mule hides the new RS 3’s slightly wider track underneath its current-generation bodywork.
To be clear, we’re expecting a new RS 3 to debut sometime in 2020, though a U.S. spec sedan version may be another year from that point. Whether or not it uses 48-volt tech with an electric turbo remains to be seen, but we wouldn’t count that out.