The Audi RS 3 is the first Audi small sedan to carry the RS high-performance tag. This hotrod provides strong driving enjoyment for those who want it all and want it now – it is both a full-on sports machine and a family car.
The body is 25 mm lower than on the standard A3 sedan. This, combined with an aero body package, gives it a sporting look without going over the top.
The RS 3 we have been testing for the last week was enhanced by an extended black high gloss styling package with added side air inlet ducts and front blade and trim strips on the side windows. The rear diffuser, side window frames, mirrors and horizontal struts are also in high gloss black.
The 19-inch lightweight wheels sit inside 235/35 tyres. Audi can fit 255/30 tyres up front if requested.
The power race with the Mercedes A45 continues but the extra 25 per cent of capacity of the Audi unit is giving it a big edge. It now has 294 kW of power, 24 kW up on its predecessor.
Peak torque of 480 Nm comes in at just 1700 rpm and remains there all the way to 5850 revs.
This powertrain can get the RS 3 sedan to 100 km/h in just 4.1 seconds.
Beside the RS 3 sedan’s engine is a seven-speed S tronic (double-clutch) automatic with ratios geared for performance in the lower end and a high seventh gear for reduced fuel consumption. It has steering wheel mounted paddles.
Audi’s famed quattro all-wheel-drive system shifts torque between front and rear axles, anything from 50 to 100 per cent can be sent to the back.
Controls are by a rotary/push button on the centre console. The rotary/push button control features a touchpad. Front seat occupants can draw letters or numbers with their finger, swipe and zoom in the map. Voice control adds to the convenience.
Online services are provided by Audi Connect. A smartphone interface integrates selected apps into the car using Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Navigation uses Google Earth and Google Street View. Satellite navigation-plus is standard and there are up to five free updates. Naturally there’s Bluetooth for audio streaming and hands-free phone.
There’s 10 GB of flash memory for media storage, two card readers, an Aux connection and a USB interface with charging function.
An excellent Bang and Olufsen sound system with 15-channel amplifier, 14 speakers with total output of 705 Watts was a $1495 option in our RS 3. Its output is magnificent.
Tremendous roadholding, magnificent brakes mean you’re not likely to need passive safety features to protect you in a crash, but are there aplenty to minimise damage to you should you, or someone else, make a big mistake.
Power and torque are relentless in the way they drive all four wheels to overtake with a minimum of time on the wrong side of the road. Hills, what hills? The Audi simply ignores them.
Select Sport mode and the exhaust is just glorious in the way it produces the snap-crackle-pop sounds we just love. If you really want more, Audi Drive Select lets you control the opening and closing of the flaps individually.
Electronic stability control and traction control have two modes, full operation and Sport. Pushing the button for more than three seconds disengages the ESC completely for more sporty handling, preferably during track days rather than when huge trees sit beside the road…
The RS sports seats are deeply bolstered and may be too tight for those of more than average girth. They certainly hold the body firm during spirited driving. Uneven road surfaces do make their presence felt. Keen drivers will overlook this, but if you want to use the RS 3 as a small family car make sure to take everyone along on your private pre-purchase road test.
Powerful brakes are already part of the RS package. Carbon ceramic discs with grey calipers are an extra cost option.
Squirt it along your favourite backroad driving route and you’re guaranteed to smile. Handling is near neutral despite the nose-heavy bias. As mentioned, you can select front wheel tyres that are larger than the rear, probably only needed for track days in reality.
Throttle inputs are fast as the engine is probably at max torque all the time, so a fair degree of right-pedal input to the handling is there for the asking.
The Audi virtual cockpit replaces analogue instruments. The fully digital instrument cluster with its 12.3-inch monitor presents all information and there is an additional RS screen to complement the two standard views.
Audi RS 3 gives you a full-on sports machine at a pretty modest price. Styling isn’t over the top, but boy can it give Mustang owners and the like a shock away from the lights…
AT A GLANCE
Audi RS3 quattro 2.5-litre turbo-petrol four-door sedan: $84,611 (automatic)
Note: This price does not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Audi dealer for drive-away pricing.
SPECIFICATIONS (Audi RS3 quattro 2.5-litre turbo-petrol four-door sedan)
Capacity: 2.480 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 294 kW @ 5850 rpm
Maximum Torque: 480 Nm @ 1700 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.4 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 191 g/km
DRIVELINE: Seven-speed automatic dual clutch
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4479 mm
Wheelbase: 2628 mm
Width: 1802 mm
Height: 1406 mm
Turning Circle: Not supplied
Kerb Mass: 1560 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 55 litres
Front: Ventilated Disc
Rear: Ventilated Disc
Three years / unlimited kilometres