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