Audi RS3 review


What is?

It’s the third generation of Audi’s RS3 megahatch and the second generation of the sedan variant (which, by the way, holds the Nürburgring record for compact cars, if that floats your mind). The same general ingredients involving excellent use of a 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine powered by quattro all-wheel drive. It feels a bit like a massage at first: more power (394 hp), a little more torque (369 lb ft), both more accessible than before, but that might be selling the new version a bit short, so more on that. in a minute. There are taller entrances, wider walkways and impressive square arches. The car itself is slightly longer, wider and taller than the previous RS3 Sportback, but with the same wheelbase and comes with less luggage space (around 50 litres).

The big news is some of the other changes that really make a difference. All cars in the UK feature adaptive damping, along with what Audi calls an “RS torque divider” to distribute a maximum of 50 per cent of available torque between the two rear wheels. There are optional ceramic brakes (saving 10kg), an optional RS exhaust (standard on some models) and a new mVDC (vehicle dynamics controller) which should allow for better and faster integration chassis systems. Oh, and configurable lights on some models (LEDs are standard) that can spell “R…S…3” and then an 8-bit checkered flag as you approach the car. I still don’t know if that’s great or just horrible.

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Does it seem like a lot is going on there?

And you would be well. For example, Audi Drive Select now offers seven different settings (Auto, Comfort, Dynamic, Efficiency, Individual RS, Performance RS and RS Rear Pair). After that, “RS Individual” mode allows for a triplet of drive system adjustments, from suspension, where “comfortable” is a different performance setting for long legs, to “comfort”, to thresholds for steering intervention. , engine sound and stability control. . And yes, although it offers a lot of personal settings, it is also a bit boring at first. It pays to persevere. Although such an adjustment is a bit time consuming, you can set the corresponding ‘single’ mode so that you only have to double press the ‘RS’ button on the right hand side of the steering wheel to access it (press d first to get your ‘RS Performance’ mode ‘), and from there, it’s up to you.

Do that, with the right setup, and the RS3 is profoundly impressive. The engine gurgles, the grip is consistent and solid, the body control is just the right side to tell you what’s going on without leaning over. But the best thing is the damping, as it makes all the systems remarkably natural: on a bumpy and unfamiliar back road, this would be the car to go for. And we also count the supercars. You are not disconnected from the line, the steering is very precise, if not the most conversational system, and nothing jumps out at you. If the tires are in contact with the ground, they are working and they are working hard for the RS3. On very slippery roads the car can feel a bit too front-wheel drive if we’re picky – probably the safest option to be honest – but once you start to trust the car and give it some more aggressive inputs it becomes remarkably neutral. . Interestingly, the Sportback hatch feels a bit snappier in the corners, and the sedan a bit better at high-speed stability, but that might just be a preconception: It’s the same gear underneath.

The good news is that high-quality driving translates to going slow. Yes, the drive can nibble on rough surfaces a bit, but you should expect at least a bit of that from a car with such potential; otherwise, he’s a kitty, and you could absolutely have him as your daily driver without compromising his spinal integrity.

Sounds really good…

He is. But it’s not perfect. It’s not immediately intuitive and you have to get familiar with the car to get the most out of it. It’s also fairly quiet, even with the optional RS exhaust system on; you’d think Audi would find at least one way to make the car completely dumb considering all the settings. And the exhausts can be seen trailing behind those oval exhaust bumper trims. It’s a sure fit – a nerf on the rear bumper won’t hurt the exhaust, but it’s still annoying.

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Our choice of the range.

Audi RS3 UK Launch Edition Review
RS 3 TFSI Quattro Vorsprung 5 doors S Tronic

What’s the verdict?

Audi’s third-generation five-cylinder megahatch, and its best yet. Although you have to spend time to get the most out of it

Something interesting is happening here, as initially the RS3 felt all over the place. There’s a profoundly impressive car here, buried under an avalanche of data, adaptability and the options it brings with it. Layers upon layers of individualization, for every surface, path and need. And while striving for perfection, what the RS3 does is force the driver to choose the right mix. But when you do, it’s great. A very good car on the right kind of bad road.

So is it the best megahatch on the market? Well, the main competition comes from the Mercedes-AMG A45 S, a 400-hp AWD sedan at the same speed and price. But they are actually quite different. Where the Merc is sarcastic, sharp, and gruff, the Audi is more cultured, better damped, and far less aggressive. It’s definitely not any slower though, and especially not on a bouncy back road, it’s probably about as fast as a car from point A to B on an unfamiliar road, as you’re likely to miss something with rally decals and a ” cage”.

It’s not as visceral as something like the Merc, despite having the same horsepower and AWD too, but the fact that it feels more on your side makes it just as quick. You’ll feel like you’re going faster on the A45, but I doubt that’s the case. More than that though, the RS3 now feels like it’s starting to get really comfortable in its own skin; it’s a reliable, dignified and capable car, with an order of madness not far off. Do not specify it in Kyalami green.

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