AUDI SPORT

RS 3 SPORTBACK / TT RS / RS 5

Driven - - Launched - Re­port by MONIQUE VANDERLINDEN | Images © QUICKPIC

A de­serted air­field and rainy weather make for an eerie scene at the best of times, but when MONIQUE VANDERLINDEN re­cently ar­rived at the aban­doned Phisan­tekraal airstrip to test out the new­est Audi Sport RS-badged cars, the line-up of bright­ly­coloured mod­els in­stantly lifted the mood.

Born on the track, and created for the road, Audi South Africa launched the Audi Sport sub­brand into the mar­ket along with the new Audi R8 dur­ing 2017 – call­ing it the em­bod­i­ment of per­fec­tion, per­for­mance, and adren­a­line-in­duced goose­bumps. South African con­sumers do have a par­tic­u­lar ap­pre­ci­a­tion for high­per­for­mance cars, ex­actly why Audi SA has dou­bled the range of per­for­mance mod­els in 2017 alone, with more com­ing in 2018 and 2019.

RS 3 SPORTBACK &

TT RS COUPÉ

Al­though these are two very dif­fer­ent and ex­cep­tional vehicles, both are built and de­vel­oped around Audi’s new 2.5 TFSI, five-cylin­der en­gine, cre­at­ing an un­matched sound – a great tra­di­tion at Audi since the 1980s.

Since 2010, the 2.5 TFSI has been voted “In­ter­na­tional En­gine of the Year” in its class for seven con­sec­u­tive years. Now, Audi presents a new ver­sion of the suc­cess­ful power unit – out­put of 294 kW re­sults to an in­crease of 24 kW ver­sus the pre­vi­ous mod­els. With the dis­place­ment of 2,480 cc re­main­ing unchanged, its max­i­mum torque of 480 Nm is avail­able at en­gine speeds as low as 1,700 r/min and re­mains con­stant up to 5,850 r/min.

This five-cylin­der en­gine thus cat­a­pults the RS 3 from zero to 100 km/h in 4.1 sec­onds, and paired with the unique sound of this five-cylin­der en­gine (due to the 1-2-4-5-3 ig­ni­tion se­quence), the RS 3 was truly ex­cit­ing to drive on the track as well as the road.

I have to ad­mit, the RS 3’s sporty char­ac­ter is ex­cep­tion­ally strik­ing – and vis­i­ble – at first glance in the front, sides, and rear, which boast new and mildly ag­gres­sive de­sign de­tails. In­side, the in­tel­li­gently-linked con­text menus make cabin op­er­a­tions in­tu­itive and er­gonomic, and the driver can reach of­ten-used func­tions in only a few steps.

In both the RS 3 and the TT RS, the power of the 2.5 TFSI en­gine flows via a seven-speed S tronic, which shifts at light­ning speed, to the qu­at­tro per­ma­nent all-wheel drive. Its mul­ti­plate clutch dis­trib­utes power be­tween the two axles, which in turn en­sure the firm grip, and plenty of driving plea­sure. Wheel-se­lec­tive torque con­trol makes han­dling even more ag­ile and safe. The driver can use the Audi drive se­lect sys­tem to in­flu­ence the qu­at­tro drive and other com­po­nents such as the steer­ing, S tronic, en­gine char­ac­ter­is­tic and ex­haust flaps. And the four modes avail­able for this are com­fort, auto, dy­namic and in­di­vid­ual.

On the track, how­ever, the car that stood out most was the TT RS, es­pe­cially when it came to the gymkhana. In ad­di­tion to its light­weight, and the fact that the car ac­cel­er­ates from 0 to 100 in a mere 3.7 sec­onds (the quick­est of the three new­com­ers), the Audi TT RS has its sporty chas­sis to thank for its out­stand­ing han­dling. The pro­gres­sive steer­ing with RS-spe­cific tun­ing pro­vides close con­tact with the road and makes it a plea­sure to drive chal­leng­ing wind­ing stretches.

In­side, the TT RS’ cock­pit fea­tures clean lines and is clearly laid out. Con­trols and dis­play in the new model are en­tirely fo­cused on the driver. All in­for­ma­tion is dis­played as stan­dard on the fully dig­i­tal Audi vir­tual cock­pit with 12.3” screen, and the driver can choose from three views, in­clud­ing a spe­cial RS screen that highlights the tachome­ter and pro­vides in­for­ma­tion on tyre pres­sure, torque and g-force, among other things.

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