Audi Sport RS 3 Sportback, TT RS & RS 5
Audi Sport RS 3 Sportback, TT RS & RS 5
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 near Cape Town to test out the newest Audi Sport RS-badged cars, the line-up of brightly-coloured models instantly lifted the mood.
Born on the track and created for the road, Audi South Africa launched the Audi Sport sub-brand into the market along with the new Audi R8 during 2017, calling it the embodiment of perfection, performance, and adrenaline-induced goose bumps. South African consumers have a particular appreciation for highperformance cars, which is exactly why Audi SA doubled the range of performance models in 2017 alone, with more coming this year and in 2019.
RS 3 SPORTBACK & TT RS COUPÉ Although these two exceptional vehicles are very different, 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, 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 on the road.
The RS 3’s sporty character is exceptionally striking 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 a 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 by choosing between the comfort, auto, dynamic and individual modes.
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 light weight and the fact that the car accelerates from 0 to 100 in a mere 3.7 seconds – making it the quickest of the three newcomers – the Audi TT RS has its sporty chassis to thank for its outstanding handling. The progressive steering with RSspecific tuning provides close contact with the road and makes it a pleasure to drive those challenging winding stretches.
Inside, the TT RS’ cockpit with its clean lines 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.
RS 5 COUPÉ
During the launch of Audi’s new RS models, most of my time was spent in the RS 5 – a fast, furious vehicle which some might refer to as the pack leader of Audi Sport’s RS models. The model united athletic power with harmonious aesthetics, as well as practical everyday usability. The model’s newly developed 2.9 TFSI bi-turbo engine produces 331 kW and delivers 600 Nm of torque, taking the exquisitely designed vehicle from 0 – 100 km/h in a mere 3.9 seconds.
The RS 5’s aesthetic was inspired by the Audi 90 Quattro IMSA GTO race car. The coupé’s boxy fender flares make it slightly wider than the S5. That, plus the larger grille highlights, add to the Audi’s sporty character.
The RS 5 Coupé features large RS-specific analogue instruments showing speed and revs, with the 7” colour driver infotainment system between them. The MMI Navigation Plus has a screen diagonal of 8.3” and an all-digital Audi virtual cockpit, providing detailed and selectable graphics. As with all RS models, the RS screen supplements the infotainment and classic displays.
The car’s safety and comfort factors are enhanced by adaptive cruise control (ACC) with stop-and-go function – including traffic jam assist, which keeps the vehicle at a safe distance from the vehicle in front of it by automatically accelerating or braking.
The RS 5’s power is distributed through all four wheels which guarantees traction, dynamism, and stability. This was not only apparent on the track activities, but even more so on the road, especially as we drove over Du Toitskloof Pass, the most fun part of the driving day and an intense test for the everyday usability and practicality of the RS 5.
The handling can be described as docile and, while the RS 5 is extremely capable, with an aggressive demeanour, the car is easy to handle and there is nothing to be nervous about when getting behind the wheel. It is sure-footed in both wet and dry conditions, and you can get up to speed with its behaviour as quickly as the car piles on the kilometres per hour.
Even though its powerful competitors enjoy more market share, these three models will certainly make the prospective Audi Sport driver think twice about picking another brand. After all, when you get behind the wheel of a brand new Audi Sport model, you too will realise that there’s just something about it.