Audi RS 3 Sportback

A few months ago we spent an enjoyable day in Italy punting an Audi RS3 at the Vallelunga racing circuit. That’s always an interesting exercise, because some high-performance cars that feel great on normal roads falter when taken to extremes on tracks.

Audi’s RS3 is certainly not one of them, it stormed around the combination of high land low speed corners without ever looking like putting a wheel out of place.

Now the Audi RS3 has just landed in Australia and we spent another great day at the wheel of a couple of examples. This time it was on the world renowned roads of Tasmania, using some of the Targa stretches to test the RS3 in real world conditions. Mundanely, we also got to test it in traffic in Launceston and Hobart – at least, what passes for traffic in the island state.

The sound produced through the optional sports exhaust system fitted to the RS3’s we tested is a real treat. Flip the right buttons to bypass some of the exhaust system and back off the electronic aids and this high-performance Audi sounds like a proper racecar. It roars, spits and crackles, and is guaranteed to put a huge smile on the face of any revhead.

Audi RS 3 Sportback

Power comes from a five-cylinder engine, sitting transversely across the car. It has a capacity of 2.5 litres and produces 270 kW of power and 465 Nm of torque. Torque is already at its maximum at just 1625 rpm and continues there all the way to 5550 rpm.

The transmission is a seven-speed dual-clutch unit, ‘S tronic’ in Audi speak. Power is taken to all four wheels by way of Audi’s quattro system.

These days the Audi S and RS ranges are designed virtually alongside the standard models, rather than powered up afterwards. This not only helps tune the powertrains to a fine degree, but also keeps costs down.

At $78,900 the RS3 is relatively affordable. Something that’s shown by the fact that Audi Australia already has 350+ advance orders for the hot little Sportback.

Previously Audi stylists have gone for a comparatively subdued look in the RS ranges, but with the RS3 have gone all out for attention grabbing. The Sportbacks in our colourful convoy attracted smartphone shots on several occasions.

The front adds a sporty end to the already sharp shape of the latest Audi A3 range. The lower side grilles are larger and all grilles use a honeycomb pattern. The lower-centre grille one has ‘quattro’ printed onto it.


The rear spoiler is certainly not there just for show. Big and complex, it provides downforce at serious speeds, both on the unrestricted roads in German and our own Northern Territory, but chiefly during track days. Top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h, but you can have the restriction removed and lift the RS3 to 280 km/h.

The guards have been widened to cope with suspension upgrades that include a wider track and the use of 19-inch wheels. There’s the option of 255/30 tyres on the front wheels, with 235/35 at the rear, this helps reduce the imbalance of the front-heavy car. Normal fitment is 235/35 tyres on all wheels. Standard wheel width is 8.0 inches, increased to 8.5 when the wider tyres are specified.

The interior is in black and accentuated with RS badges. The sport seats are covered in fine Nappa leather with contrasting stitching in gray. They support well and aren’t overly difficult to climb in an out of.

The steering wheel is a flat-bottomed sports unit and is wrapped in leather and Alcantara.

Suspension is semi-race in its specifications and our on-road driving in the hills of Tasmania showed it to be rather firm at times – and pretty noisy on Australia’s notorious coarse-chip surfaces.

Brakes are normally steel discs on all four wheels, but ceramic discs for reduced weight and even better cooling for track use can be specified.

Two flaps in the exhaust pipes downstream from the muffler control the exhaust flow to provide a sporting sound that varies with engine load and speed. The driver can manually control the flaps by using the Drive Select system.

The sound is just wonderful and this is the sort of car that just cries out to be dropped down a gear or two to let you experience its aural activity. Try it during your test drive…

Audi’s all-new RS3 Sportback is a very impressive high-performance sports machine that can be used as a daily driver, then go to race tracks to let owners give their automotive toy its head.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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