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Audi heads to the races with its all-new RS3 LMS

The automaker loved the RS3 passenger car so much, it went off the deep end and converted it into a touring car.

Audi

This car is devilishly handsome, and it sounds pretty great, to boot.

Audi

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as an "entry-level" race car. After all, it's not like you get thrown into a Le Mans car on your first outing. Audi's latest barrel-bottom racer is based on the brand new RS3 sedan, and hot diggity damn, it's a looker.

The Audi RS3 LMS is a cheap and unbelievably cool way to break into the world of amateur racing. It starts at 99,000 euros (around $110,500) for the club sport variant, but it jumps up to 129,000 euros ($144,000) if you want the more hardcore TCR series racer. In TCR trim, its 2.0-liter engine puts out 330 horsepower and will reach 62 mph in 4.5 seconds.

This is, clearly, not a road car. It's low and wide, rocking some very aggressive aerodynamics. There's a trick center-exit exhaust out back, and the interior only barely resembles the road-going version. It would drive on the road, sure, but the local constabulary may have some issues with a non-licensed race car blasting about.

Of course, being a proper race car, there's loads of safety equipment baked into the RS3 LMS. The price of entry includes a FIA-spec fuel tank, a roll cage, safety nets and a PS3 safety seat. There's also a rescue hatch on the roof, similar to Audi's R8 LMS endurance racer.

With the TCR-spec car, you'll be able to run in certain supporting races during Formula 1 weekends, along with standalone endurance events like the 24 Hours of Nurburgring. If you want a cost-efficient (relatively speaking), easy way to slide behind the seat of a race car, here's your best bet.