Sound dom­i­nates the RS3’s char­ac­ter

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - SIBONELO MYENI

IF an Audi hatch­back is to your taste and killer per­for­mance is part of your buy­ing cri­te­ria, the se­cond gen­er­a­tion RS3 is just your car … we tested it.

The RS3 adds more de­sign ag­gres­sion over a stan­dard A3, with the hon­ey­comb grille com­plete with RS3 de­cal, Qu­at­tro badg­ing on the lower air in­take and side air in­take with de­signer lou­vers (in op­tional black on test unit).

Add to that the LED lights with LED day­time lights and it has a front that won’t be mis­taken for any­thing else but a RS fet­tled A3 on the road.

The 19-inch wheels in gun­metal grey blended well with the sil­ver colour of the test unit, while red brake cal­lipers with RS badg­ing hinted at the car’s sporty de­meanour.

The rear is dom­i­nated by the two big­bore ex­haust tail pipes mounted on ei­ther side of the dif­fuser, which even though they are less than the quad pipes on the cheaper S3, they emit a sound that dom­i­nates the RS3’s char­ac­ter. Viewed from the rear, the ex­tended wheel arches mimic J-Lo from be­hind.

The in­te­rior has sub­tle dif­fer­ences to the cheaper A3, such as the flat-bot­tom steer­ing wheel, metal-fin­ish gear lever and RS3 decals around the cabin. The RS seats (R10 k op­tion) are a joy, prov­ing both com­fort and sup­port, while the sim­i­lar up­hol­stery fin­ish for the rear seats is a par­tic­u­larly nice touch.

Four peo­ple can fit com­fort­ably in­side with am­ple boot space for fam­ily trips, while the op­tional panoramic glass roof adds airi­ness in the cabin.

The MMI with a pop-up in­fo­tain­ment screen al­lows ease of car, en­ter­tain­ment and nav­i­ga­tion set­ting changes.

If en­gine noise and ex­haust crack­les are what you love in a car, the RS3 will def­i­nitely be in the top-10 cars in your dream garage.

The 2,5-litre, four-cylin­der turbo unit makes 270 kW from 5 500 rpm and 465 New­tons be­tween 1 625 and 5 550 rpm, with Audi’s Qu­at­tro driv­e­train and seven-speed dual clutch S Tronic gear­box putting the power into the cor­ners. Gear changes hap­pen au­to­mat­i­cally or through pad­dle shifts.

If you put the gear­box in Sport, put the en­gine ex­haust in Dy­namic (on Audis Drive Se­lect) as these shifts are ac­com­pa­nied by a sat­is­fy­ing boom, while lift-off ex­haust crackle can turn any man into a grin­ning lit­tle boy, such is the fun.

Us­ing the launch-con­trol func­tion, Audi claims a 0-100 km/h sprint in 4,5 sec­onds with the top speed lim­ited to 250 km/h, or you can opt for the lim­iter to be raised to 270 km/h.

The en­gine doesn’t feel 270 kW though, with a smooth de­liv­ery rather than the ex­pected turbo lump de­liv­ery of power. In fact, it feels more like a big, nat­u­rally as­pi­rated unit and you have to watch con­stantly the speed lim­its.

The MQB light­weight plat­form al­lied to the Qu­at­tro sys­tem re­sults in ex­cel­lent trac­tion and agility in dy­namic driv­ing but un­like other Qu­at­tro sys­tems which don’t ma­jor on fun (R8 and B7 RS4 aside), the RS3 en­thrals the driver.

This al­lows the RS3 to be en­joyed over and over again, un­til the fuel tank runs dry, which is very pos­si­ble con­sid­er­ing we av­er­aged 14 l/100 km, but ev­ery 95 un­leaded oc­tane drop is worth the fun.

The stan­dard R826 000 is a bit mis­lead­ing as to spec the RS3 prop­erly for en­joy­ment, you need to bud­get close to one bar, but then even at that price, the RS3 is one of the pleas­ant sur­prises we have had this year. — imo­toon­line.

PHOTO: IMO­TOON­LINE

At well over R800 k, the Audi RS3 is not a cheap hot hatch, but it comes packed with pleas­ant sur­prises.

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